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l-'roin  a  Photograph  by  Messrs.  Bourne  &>  Shepherd. 




For  many  years  Chaplain  of  Tezpur  and  in  charge  of 

the  Kachdri  Mission  of  the  Society  for  the 

Propagation  of  the  Gospel  at  that  place. 


Published  under  the  orders  of  the  Government  of   Eastern 
Bengal  and  Assam 


191 1 






N.B. — The  Editorial  Notes  in  this  volume  are  from  the  pen 
of  Colonel  P.  R.  T.  Gurdon,  LA.,  Director  of  Ethnology  to 
the  Government  of  Eastern  Bengal  and  Assam. 








LAWS  AND  CUSTOMS         24 

RELIGION       33 






S.  ENDLE.     From  a  Photograph  by  Messrs.  Bourne  &  Shepherd     Frontispiece 

GROUP  OF  MECHES  (Goalpara  District).      From  a  Photograph 

by  Mr.  T.  E.  Emerson To  face  p.     5 

KACHARI  WOMAN  WEAVING  (Kamrup) ,,  20 


KACHARI  WOMEN  FISHING  (Kamrup).       From  a  Photograph 

by  Mrs.  H.  A.  Colquhoun ,,  22 

KACHARI  GIELS    PLAYING  JEW'S  HARP  (Gongina).     From  a 

Photograph  by  Mrs.  H.  A.  Colquhoun ,,  30 

Suu    TREE    (Euphorbia  splendens).      From  a  Photograph  by 

Mrs.  H.  A.  Colquhoun ,,  36 

KACHARI    VILLAGE    INTERIOR  (Kamrup  District).      From  a 

Photograph  by  Mrs.  H.  A.  Colquhoun ,,  56 

KACHARI  GIRL  (Kamrup  District).       From  a  Photograph  by 

Mrs.  H.  A.  Colquhoun ,,  67 

GORGE  OF  THE  RIVER  MANAS.     From  a  Photograph  by  Mrs. 

H.  A.  Colquhoun ,,  % 

KACHARI   MAN    (Kamrup   District).      From  a  Photograph  by 

Mrs.  H.  A.  Colquhoun ,,  105 

GROUP     OF    KACHARI    MEN    (Kamrup    District).        From   a 

Photograph  by  Mrs.  H.  A.  Colquhoun ,,  113 


KACHARI  MAN To  face  p.  10 

KACHARI  GIRL  FISHIM; ,,           16 

KACHARI  WOMAN ,,           60 

MECH  GIRL ,,           82 



IT  is  with  some  diffidence  that  I  comply  with  Colonel 
Gurdon's  request  that  I  should  add  a  few  words  of  preface  and 
explanation  to  the  last  literary  work  of  an  old  friend  and  pastor, 
whose  loss  will  long  be  lamented  in  the  Assam  Valley,  where  he 
laboured  as  a  missionary  and  planter's  chaplain  for  upwards  of 
forty  years.  Mr.  Endle's  interest  in  his  Kachari  flock  was  that 
of  an  evangelist  rather  than  that  of  a  linguist  or  ethnologist, 
and  this  preoccupation  has  coloured  his  style  and  affected  the 
matter  of  his  book  in  a  way  that,  however  pleasant  and  natural 
it  may  seem  to  those  who  had  the  privilege  of  his  acquaintance, 
may  perhaps  require  a  few  words  of  explanation  for  the  benefit 
of  those  who  look  for  anthropology  only,  or  linguistics,  in  his 

My  first  duty,  then,  is  to  say  a  few  words  about  the  author's 
life  and  character.  Sidney  Endle  was  born  about  1840  at 
Totnes  in  Devon,  of  sturdy  yeoman  parentage.  His  grandfather 
was,  it  seems,  proud  of  being  an  armiger,  and  it  is  a  family 
tradition  that  many  Endles  figured  in  the  ranks  of  the  Catholic 
clergy  of  the  West  country.  Mr.  Endle  was  educated  at  Totnes 
Grammar  School,  under  the  Rev.  James  Povvney,  and  early 
conceived  a  wish  to  enter  the  ministry  of  the  Church  of  England, 
and  serve  abroad  as  a  missionary.  With  this  view  he  entered 
St.  Augustine's  College  at  Canterbury.  Unfortunately  the 
College  seems  to  have  kept  no  written  record  of  the  dates 
at  which  one  of  the  most  distinguished  and  devoted  of  its  pupils 
entered  and  left  its  roof.  It  was  in  February,  1864,  however, 
that  he  was  sent  by  the  Society  for  the  Propagation  of  the 
Gospel  to  Tezpur,  in  Assam,  to  be  the  assistant  of 
Mr.  Hesselmyer,  then  in  charge  of  the  Kachari  mission  at 
that  place.  In  1865  he  was  ordained  deacon  by  the  Bishop  of 


Calcutta,  and  in  the  following  year  he  was  admitted  to  priest's 
orders.  Soon  after  he  was  transferred  to  the  independent 
charge  of  the  S.P.G.  mission  among  the  tea-garden  coolies  at 
Dibrugarh  in  Upper  Assam.  In  1869,  on  Mr.  Hesselmyer's 
death;  Mr.  Endle  was  made  chaplain  of  the  important  tea- 
planting  district  of  Darrang,  with  the  charge  of  the  Kachari 
mission  in  that  district,  having  his  head-quarters  at  Tezpur. 
His  pastoral  duties  were  thus  two-fold.  On  the  one  hand,  he 
became  the  pastor  of  an  European  community  scattered  over 
an  area  some  100  miles  in  length  by  30  or  40  in  breadth.  It 
was  his  duty  to  gather  his  flock  round  him  at  some  convenient 
tea-garden,  or  at  the  pretty  little  rustic  church  at  Tezpur  itself, 
where  his  congregation  included  the  small  band  of  officials.  He 
was  everywhere  welcome,  and  it  was  not  long  before  he  was  as 
popular  as  he  was  respected.  One  of  the  most  unworldly  and 
simple  of  men,  almost  an  ascetic  in  his  personal  tastes  and 
habits,  he  could  sympathise  with  and  understand  men  whose 
training  and  ideas  were  different  from  his.  He  had  a  native 
shrewdness  and  quiet  sense  of  humour  which  stood  him  in  good 
stead  in  his  dealings  with  men  probably  as  varied  in  their 
origins  and  temperament  as  are  to  be  found  in  any  collection  of 
Englishmen  beyond  the  seas.  His  sermons — and  he  could 
preach  with  equal  ease  and  eloquence  in  English,  Assamese, 
and  Kachari — were  ever  those  of  a  man  who  to  shrewd 
observation  of  the  various  life  about  him,  native  and  European, 
added  an  unwavering  devotion  to  the  responsibilities  of  his 
calling.  Authoritative,  and  even  stern,  he  could  be  when  he 
thought  it  needful  to  assert  his  responsibility  as  a  priest. 
But,  somehow,  the  occasion  rarely  occurred,  since  his  was 
not  the  disposition  that  demands  impossible  perfection  of 
ordinary  human  nature.  There  was  no  touch  of  intolerance  in 
his  gentle  and  (there  is  no  other  word  to  describe  him)  saintly 
nature.  I  think  he  would  have  liked  to  have  it  said  of  him 
that,  like  Chaucer's  Parson, 

He  was  a  shepherd  and  no  mercenerie. 
And  though  he  holy  were  and  vertuous, 
He  was  to  simple  men  not  dispitous, 
Ne  of  his  speech  dangerous  ne  digne, 
But  in  his  teaching  discrete  and  benigne. 


Innumerable  were  the  marriages  and  christenings  he 
celebrated  in  all  parts  of  Assam,  and  it  was  characteristic  of 
the  man  that  he  regarded  it  as  a  duty  to  keep  himself  informed 
of  the  welfare,  spiritual  and  physical,  of  the  children  he  held 
at  the  font.  During  his  rare  visits  to  England  he  endeavoured 
when  he  was  not  busy  preaching  for  his  mission,  to  visit  those 
whom  in  their  infancy  he  had  admitted  to  his  Church.  Few 
chaplains  in  India  can  have  been  so  universally  popular  and 
respected  as  he  was,  and  this  without  in  any  way  relaxing  from 
the  dignity  which,  in  his  case,  belonged  rather  to  his  sacred 
office  than  to  any  consideration  for  his  own  person. 

But  he  made  no  secret  of  the  fact  that  his  heart  was  chiefly 
in  his  missionary  work  among  his  beloved  Kacharis.  The 
Bodos  of  the  Kachari  dwars  (the  dwars  or  "  doors  "  of  the 
Kachari  plains  are  the  passes  that  lead  into  the  rough  mountains 
of  independent  Bhutan)  are,  like  most  of  the  aboriginal  races 
of  Assam,  cheery,  good-natured,  semi-savage  folk ;  candid, 
simple,  trustful,  but  incorrigibly  disrespectful  according  to 
Indian  notions  of  good  manners.  To  a  casual  observer,  they 
may  well  have  seemed  incapable  of  comprehending  the  gentle 
reserve  and  unaffected  unselfishness  of  their  pastor's  nature. 
Among  them,  however,  it  was  his  delight  to  unbend,  and  give 
way  to  the  almost  boyish  simplicity  and  sense  of  fun  which  to 
the  last  were  among  his  most  engaging  traits.  When  Mr. 
Endle  approached  a  Kachari  village  during  one  of  the  prolonged 
preaching  tours  which  were  to  him  at  once  a  duty  and  the 
keenest  of  pleasures,  he  was  always  greeted  with  a  joyous 
and  often  noisy  welcome.  He  travelled  on  foot,  and  the 
villagers  would  turn  out  to  see  the  gdmi-ni-brai,  the  "  old  man 
of  the  village,"  as  they  affectionately  called  him.  He  was  often 
cordially  invited  to  share  in  the  village  festivities,  and  it  was 
an  interesting  sight  to  watch  him  seated  in  the  midst  of  rough 
semi-savage  folk,  listening  to  the  tale  of  their  simple  joys  and 
sorrows,  enjoying  their  primitive  jokes,  and,  when  occasion 
served,  talking  to  them,  as  probably  no  one  else  will  ever  be  able 
to  talk  to  them  again,  of  the  matters  nearest  to  the  missionary's 

In  all  parts  of  the  Kachari  country,  Mr.  Endle  established 
many  village  schools,  served  by  trusty  converts.  But  his  chief 


pride  was  in  the  church  he  built  at  Bengbari,  which,  to  his 
great  joy,  was  consecrated  by  Bishop  Milman  in  person. 
Under  its  thatched  roof  has  now  been  placed  a  tablet  to  the 
memory  of  its  founder. 

No  account  of  Mr.  Endle's  life,  however  brief,  would  be 
complete  without  a  mention  of  the  fact  that  in  1875  he  married 
Miss  Sarah  Ewbank  Chambers,  who  for  twenty  years  shared 
his  pastoral  anxieties.  Mrs.  Endle  was  much  respected  by  the 
European  community  throughout  Assam,  and  her  sudden  death 
in  Calcutta  in  1895  was  universally  regretted.  How  sorely 
her  husband  felt  her  loss,  not  even  those  who  knew  him  best 
were  allowed  to  guess,  but  it  was  plain  that,  from  this  time 
onwards,  much  of  his  old  elasticity  of  mind  and  body  deserted 
him,  and  though  he  continued  his  work  with  unabated  industry 
the  effects  of  age  began  for  the  first  time  to  be  apparent  to 
his  friends.  In  1884  Mr.  Endle  compiled  his  well-known 
manual  of  the  Kachari  language,  published  by  the  Assam 
Secretariat  Press.  From  time  to  time  he  contributed  papers  on 
the  subject  of  the  Bodo  people  to  the  Transactions  of  the  Asiatic 
Society  of  Bengal.  In  1891  he  was  elected  an  Honorary  Fellow 
of  St.  Augustine's  College,  in  recognition  of  his  linguistic 
studies  and  of  his  eminence  as  a  worker  in  the  mission  field. 
In  1906  he  was  offered  a  canon ry  by  the  Bishop  of  Calcutta,  but 
characteristically  refused  a  dignity  which  might  have  involved 
absences  from  his  missionary  duties. 

Such,  briefly  told,  are  the  few  outstanding  events  in  a  life 
wholly  devoted  to  pastoral  work,  of  which  little  was  known 
outside  his  native  flock.  It  was  Mr.  Endle's  repeatedly 
expressed  wish  that  he  might  end  his  life  and  be  laid  to  rest 
among  his  Kacharis.  This  wish  was  not  fulfilled.  Towards 
the  end  of  1905  it  was  evident  that  his  persistent  disregard  of 
his  personal  comfort  in  an  enervating  climate  had  taxed  a 
naturally  robust  constitution.  He  was  induced  with  some 
difficulty  to  pay  a  brief  visit  to  England  for  rest  and  change. 
He  spent  this  holiday  chiefly  in  preaching  for  his  mission  and 
visiting  old  friends.  He  was  soon,  perhaps  too  soon,  back  at 
his  work.  It  could  no  longer  be  hidden  from  himself  or  others 
that  he  had  overtaxed  his  strength.  This,  however,  caused 
him  no  disquietude.  He  had  done  his  day's  work,  and  was 


cheerfully  ready  to  take  his  departure.  In  July  1907,  he 
could  struggle  no  longer  against  growing  weakness,  and  was 
placed  on  one  of  the  little  mail  steamers  that  ply  up  and  down 
the  Brahmaputra,  in  the  hope  that  river  breezes,  rest,  and 
change  of  scene  might  bring  about  some  restoration  to  health. 
He  himself,  however,  knew  that  his  end  was  near,  and  he 
passed  away,  painlessly  and  peacefully,  on  the  river  bank  at 
Dibrugarh,  close  to  the  scene  of  his  first  independent  missionary 
charge,  entrusted  to  him  more  than  forty  years  before. 

So  much  by  way  of  biographical  introduction  seemed 
necessary,  not  only  as  an  inadequate  and  too  brief  memorial  of 
a  singularly  unselfish  and  blameless  career,  but  also  as  an 
explanation  of  some  features  in  Mr.  Endle's  book  not  usually 
found  in  anthropological  manuals.  Of  the  subject  of  the  book 
itself  I  may  now  be  allowed  to  say  a  few  words,  if  only  to  show 
that  it  has  an  interest  and  importance,  from  an  ethnological 
point  of  view,  which  are  perhaps  disguised  by  the  author's 
characteristically  modest  estimate  of  his  task  and  of  his  power 
of  dealing  with  it.  The  book  is,  primarily,  a  monograph  treat- 
ing of  that  branch  of  the  Kachari  race  which  lives  in 
scattered  hamlets  along  the  foot-hills  of  the  Himalayas  in 
Northern  Bengal  and  Assam,  intermixed  now  with  Hindu 
people  who  have  intruded  into  what  was  once  their  undisputed 
home.  In  Assam  proper  the  Hindus  call  them  Kacharis ;  in 
Bengal  they  are  known  as  Meches.1  Their  own  name  for  their 
race  is  Boro  or  Bodo  (the  o  has  the  sound  of  the  English  o  in 
"  hot  ").  Among  this  northern  branch  of  the  race  is  embedded 
the  tribe  of  the  Koch,  whose  name  is  pronounced  locally  as  if 
it  were  Koss,  (to  rhyme  with  our  English  "  boss  ").  (Kachari, 
I  may  mention  in  passing,  is  also  pronounced  as  Koss-ari.) 
The  Koch  have  gradually  become  a  semi-Hindu  caste,  most 
of  whose  members  now  talk  the  Indian  Bengali  or  Assamese. 
It  also  contains  the  surviving  remnants  of  the  royal  family  of 
the  great  and  powerful  Koch  empire,  which,  roughly,  covered 
the  same  area  as  the  present  province  of  Eastern  Bengal  and 
Assam.  It  can  be  proved  that  the  aboriginal  members  of  the 
Koch  caste  within  quite  recent  times  spoke  the  Boro  language. 

1  Mech,  sc.  Mleccha,  barbarian,  one  who  is  ignorant  of  civilised  speech. 


In  the  East  of  the  Assam  Valley  was  another  powerful  kingdom, 
that  of  the  Chutiyas,  whose  language  was  another  branch  of  the 
speech  described  in  this  book.  The  river  names  of  the  whole 
Brahmaputra  Valley  are  Bodo  names,  and  it  is  demonstrable 
that  the  Bodos  were  the  aborigines  of  the  Valley.  In  the 
great  mass  of  hills,  an  outlying  spur  of  the  mountains  of  Upper 
Burma,  which  divide  the  Brahmaputra  Valley  from  that  of 
the  river  Surma  which  runs  parallel  to  it  from  east  to  west 
are  two  more  Bodo  groups.  The  most  eastern  of  these  comprises 
the  Di-ma-sa,  Great-River-Folk  (di-  means  "  river  "  or  "  water,") 
people  who  were  driven  out  of  the  valley  of  the  great  river 
Brahmaputra  in  historical  times,  and  finally  became  rulers  of 
what  is  now  the  great  tea-planting  district  of  Cachar  or  Kachar. 
They  either  gave  its  name  to  or  perhaps  derived  their  Hindu 
soubriquet  of  Kachari  from  this  district.  Of  this  branch  of  the 
race  an  interesting  description  will  be  found  in  the  supplement 
to  this  book.  At  the  western  extremity  of  the  range  of  hills  is 
another  group,  the  Garos,  of  whom  an  excellent  account  has 
lately  been  published  by  Major  A.  Playfair,  I.A.  (London,  David 
Nutt,  1909).  The  Garos  are  of  peculiar  interest  as  members 
of  the  Bodo  family,  because  they  were  head-hunters  within  the 
memory  of  men  still  living. 

Finally  in  the  range  of  hills  in  the  south  of  the  Surma  Valley, 
there  are  the  Tipperahs  whose  language  is  obviously  a  branch 
of  the  ancient  Bodo  speech ;  quiet  inoffensive  people,  ruled  over 
by  a  semi-independent  Raja  who  is  also  a  great  land-owner  in 
the  British  districts  of  Tipperah  and  Sylhet. 

Now,  the  anthropologists  rightly  caution  us  against  rashly 
concluding  that  a  common  speech,  where  races  are  in  contact, 
implies  a  common  origin,  since  everywhere,  and  especially  among 
people  who  use  an  unwritten  language,  nothing  is  more  common 
than  the  borrowing  of  a  neighbouring  tongue.  But  where,  as 
here,  we  have  five  absolutely  separate  communities  of  semi- 
savage  people,  who  nowadays  are  not  so  much  as  aware  of  one 
another's  existence,  and  yet  speak  what  is  to  all  purposes  the 
same  language,  it  is  plain  that  they  must  have  been  united  at 
no  very  distant  date  by  some  common  social  bond.  The  date 
cannot  have  been  very  distant,  because  in  the  unwritten  speech 
of  semi-savage  people  phonetic  decay  acts  very  rapidly,  and  a 


very  few  years  may  serve  to  disguise  the  relationships  of 
adjacent  and  cognate  tongues.  No  one  who  has  heard  members 
of  the  five  branches  of  the  Bodo  race  speak  their  respective 
languages  can  fail  to  recognise  that  they  belong  to  the  same 
linguistic  group.  Moreover,  this  common  Bodo  speech  was, 
till  within  a  few  years  ago,  the  language  of  the  Koches,  the 
dominant  and  ruling  tribe  in  the  great  Koch  kingdom,  which 
survived,  with  something  of  its  ancient  prestige  and  power, 
long  enough  to  be  visited  by  an  Englishman,  Ralph  Fitch,  in 
Queen  Elizabeth's  time.  It  would  seem,  then,  that  the  language 
spoken  in  the  ancient  Koch  kingdom,  which  extended  from  the 
Himalayas  to  the  Bay  of  Bengal,  was  the  Koch  or  Bodo 
language,  and  the  mass  of  the  people  must  have  been  of  Bodo 
origin.  In  the  Brahmaputra  valley  these  Bodos  have  survived 
in  the  midst  of  Hindu  and  Shan  invaders  and  settlers,  of  whom 
those  who  are  interested  in  the  subject  may  read  in  Mr.  E.  A.  Gait's 
admirable  History  of  Assam,  (Calcutta,  Thacker,  Spink  and  Co., 
1906).  Here  the  anthropologist  may  come  to  the  rescue  of 
the  historian.  The  Bodo  type  of  face  and  physical  construc- 
tion is,  as  Mr.  Endle  says,  of  an  Indo-Chinese  kind,  easily 
distinguishable  from  the  Arya-Dravidian  type  common  in 
adjacent  Bengal,  and  careful  measurements  in  the  Brahmaputra 
and  Surma  Valleys  ought  to  show  how  far  the  old  Koch  element 
still  persists,  how  far  it  has  been  obliterated  by  inter-marriage 
with  Indian  immigrants. 

It  may,  however,  be  assumed  that  the  population  of  the 
Koch  kingdom,  and  therefore  of  its  predecessor,  the  famous 
classical  empire  of  Kama-rupa,  of  which  Sanskrit  scholars  may 
read  in  the  Mahabharata  (perhaps  in  a  late  interpolation  in  the 
epic)  was  chiefly  Bodo,  of  the  same  type  as  the  humble  folk  who 
are  the  subject  of  Mr.  Endle's  book.  Kama-rupa  was  visited  in 
the  first  half  of  the  seventh  century  of  our  era  by  the  famous 
Chinese  traveller  Hiuen  Tsiang,  whose  interesting  account  of  the 
land  and  people  may  be  found  at  page  22  of  Mr.  Gait's  History. 
"  They  adore  and  sacrifice,"  says  the  Chinese  explorer,  "  to  the 
Devas  and  have  no  faith  in  Buddha." 

It  was  apparently  in  the  kingdom  of  Kama-rupa  that  there 
came  into  being  that  form  of  Hinduism  whose  scriptures  are 
the  later  Puranas  and  the  Tantras,  the  worship  of  Siva  and  his 



Sakti,  that  form  of  the  Hindu  cult  which,  to  this  day  and  even 
in  the  temple  of  Kali-ghat  in  Calcutta  itself,  is  distinguished 
by  sacrifice  by  decapitation.  In  the  earlier  times  of  British 
rule,  as  readers  of  Mr.  Gait's  book  may  find  for  themselves,  the 
Hindus  of  Assam  were  much  addicted  to  human  sacrifice  by 
beheading,  and,  to  this  day,  the  appropriate  method  of  pro- 
pitiating the  terrible  goddess  Kali,  the  "  dark  one  "  (who  is  also 
Dur-ga,  "hard  of  approach  "),  is  by  bloody  sacrifices.  The  Saiva 
or  Sakta  form  of  Hinduism  would  therefore  seem  to  be  due  to 
an  engrafting  of  Koch  superstitions  on  the  purer  and  humaner 
religious  ideas  imported  into  India  by  the  Aryan  settlers  to 
whom  we  owe  the  Vedas  and  the  religious  literature  based  on 
those  early  pastoral  hymns.  From  this  point  of  view,  it  is 
important  to  bear  in  mind  that  the  Garos  were  till  lately 
headhunters,  and  that  the  Chutiyas  were  conspicuous,  even  in 
North-Eastern  India,  for  their  addiction  to  human  sacrifices. 

How  does  it  happen  then,  it  may  be  asked,  that  the  Bodos 
described  in  this  book  are  among  the  most  innocent  and  kindly 
of  semi-savage  people  ?  The  answer  seems  to  be  that  the  bulk 
of  the  inhabitants  of  North-Eastern  India  were  always  simple 
inoffensive  folk,  and  that  it  was  only  the  ruling  tribes  and 
families  that  were  addicted  to  war,  rapine,  torture,  cruelty,  and 
the  religious  developments  that  go  with  these.  If  Assam  is 
undoubtedly  still  the  home  of  the  Tantrik  beliefs  which  have  their 
centre  at  the  famous  shrine  of  Kamaksa  at  the  old  capital  of 
the  Koch  monarchs  (now  known  as  Gua-hati  or  Gauhati),  Assam 
is  also  the  home  of  the  Visnu-ite  reform,  an  attractive  and 
learned  account  of  which  will  be  found  in  a  paper  by  Sir  Charles 
N.  E.  Eliot,  published  in  the  "Journal  of  the  Royal  Asiatic 
Society  "  for  October,  1910.  The  common  people  in  Assam,  the 
rustic  Hindus  of  the  Brahmaputra  Valley,  are  in  temperament 
and  habits  very  like  the  cheerful  and  smiling  Bodo  folk  among 
whom  Mr.  Endle  laboured,  and  of  whom  he  writes  with  such 
frank  regard  and  appreciation.  The  climate  of  the  valley  is 
enervating  and  soft,  and  any  traveller  in  Assam  can  see  for 
himself  how  the  once  fierce  and  warlike  Ahom  invaders,  who 
gave  its  name  to  the  country  of  Assam,  have  become  as  soft  and 
kindly  in  disposition  as  the  Kacharis  themselves.  No  more 
remarkable  instance  of  the  effect  of  environment  on  national 


temperament  could  be  found  anywhere,  and  the  anthropological 
theories  of  Dr.  Ridgeway  could  hardly  have  a  more  remarkable 
support  than  he  might  find  by  contrasting  the  semi-savage 
inhabitants  of  the  Brahmaputra  Valley  with  the  bloodthirsty  and 
warlike  tribes  in  the  surrounding  mountains,  their  neighbours 
and  relatives. 

I  have  only  to  say,  finally,  that  I  have  added,  as  an  Appendix 
to  my  old  friend's  book,  a  literal  interlinear  translation  of  three 
stories  from  my  little  Collection  of  Kachari  Folk-tales.  In 
adding  these  I  have  followed  the  example  set  by  Sir  Charles 
Lyall  in  his  monograph  on  the  Mikirs.  By  means  of  this  inter- 
linear and  word-for-word  translation,  the  comparative  linguist 
may  see  for  himself  how  far  Kachdri  is  still  a  monosyllabic 
agglutinative  language,  and  how  far  it  has  borrowed  the 
inflectional  mechanism  of  Assamese  and  Bengali.  There  has, 
of  course,  been  mutual  borrowing,  and  I,  for  one,  do  not  doubt 
that  the  syntactical  peculiarities  of  Assamese  are  largely  due  to 
the  fact  that  it  is  a  speech  with  an  Aryan  vocabulary  spoken  by 
a  people  who  are  largely  non-Aryan.  Any  careful  reader  of  the 
stories  in  this  book  can  see  for  himself  that  the  Bodo  spoken  in 
the  Kachdri  dwars  is  the  language  of  a  biglot  people.  Their 
picturesque  agglutinative  verb  is  plainly  a  survival  of  days  when 
the  language  was  as  monosyllabic  as  Chinese.  But  the  general 
structure  of  the  language  is  now  governed  by  inflections 
obviously  borrowed  from  Bengali  and  Assamese. 



December,  1910. 




1.  1.  THE  people  generally  known  to  us  as  "  Kacharis  "  differ  Charac- 
in    some    material    ways    from    their   Hindu    and   Musulman tens1 
neighbours  alike   in   things   material   and   moral.      They  are 
certainly  not  a  tall  or  handsome  race,  and  in  general  appearance 

bear  some  resemblance  to  the  Nepali,  being  as  a  rule  shorter 
and  stouter  than  the  people  of  North-west  India,  though  well 
fitted  to  bear  up  against  physical  fatigue  and  hardship.  In  Physical 
face  and  figure  they  show  a  distinct  approximation  to  what 
is  known  as  the  Mongolian  type,  i.e.,  they  have  square  set  faces, 
projecting  cheek-bones,  with  almond-shaped  eyes,  and  scanty 
beard  and  moustache,  the  last-mentioned  being  often  wanting 
altogether.  In  this  way  they  are  well  fitted  for  all  forms  of 
outdoor  (field  and  factory)  labour  that  require  strength  rather 
than  skill,  and  may  very  reasonably  be  regarded  as  the 
"  navvies  "  of  Assam. 

2.  In  mental  and  intellectual  power  they  are  undoubtedly  far  Mental, 
below  their  Hindu  neighbours ;  for  they  possess  neither  the 
quickness  of  apprehension,  nor  the  astonishing  power  of  memory, 

&c.,  characteristic  of  the  higher  castes  among  the  Hindus. 
On  the  other  hand,  what  they  do  succeed  in  mastering,  often 
with  much  toil  and  painful  effort,  they  digest  and  retain  with 
much  tenacity.  Among  other  social  and  mental  features 
of  character  there  are  two  which  are  seldom  wanting  to  the 



"  Kachari " :  (1)  he  is  an  intensely  clannish  being.  A  fine 
imposed  on  one  member  of  a  village  community  is  sometimes 
paid  by  the  whole  body  of  villagers  together.  When  employed 
in  any  considerable  numbers  on  a  tea  factory,  the  Kachari 
labourers  so  employed,  resenting  some  real  or  fancied  wrong  done 
to  one  of  their  number,  will  often  leave  the  garden  in  a  body, 
even  though  there  may  be  a  month's  pay  due  to  every  one 
of  them.  Again  they  have  (2)  no  small  share  of  that  quality 
so  powerful  for  good  or  evil,  according  as  it  is  guided  into  right 
or  wrong  channels,  i.e.,  a  certain  strength  of  will,  "  what  their 
friends  might  call  firmness,  and  their  enemies  might  term 
obstinacy."  If  they  once  make  up  their  minds,  and  they  are 
abundantly  capable  of  doing  this,  to  act  in  a  certain  way,  it  is 
mere  waste  of  time  to  attempt  to  reason  them  out  of  their 
resolution,  for  nothing  short  of  absolute  and  overpowering 
physical  force  is  of  any  avail  to  turn  them  from  the  course  they 
have  once  for  all  resolved  to  adopt  and  act  upon. 

3.  As  regards  the  moral  character  of  the  Kachari  race,  those 
who  know  them  best  will  be  the  first  to  speak  favourably  of 
them.  Like  many  of  the  Sub-Himalayan  hill  tribes,  they 
undoubtedly  have  a  certain  weakness  for  what  may  be  looked 
upon  as  their  national  beverage  (Madh,  zu),  a  form  of  rice- 
beer.  Of  this,  in  itself  a  comparatively  harmless  liquor  when 
taken  in  moderation,  they  at  times  consume  very  large 
quantities,  especially  at  weddings,  funerals,  and  at  the 
January  and  April  Bihu  festivals;  and  more  particularly  at 
what  is  known  as  the  "  first  eating  of  the  new  rice  "  (Nowdn  bhdt 
khoa  ;  Mikham  g&dan  zdnai),  which  usually  takes  place  about 
the  middle  of  December  or  a  little  earlier.  At  this  last- 
mentioned  gathering  the  writer  has  sometimes  seen  well-nigh 
the  entire  population  of  a  Kachari  village  hors  de  combat  from 
the  effect  of  over-indulgence  in  the  national  beverage.  But 
they  are  certainly  not  habitual  drunkards,  and  in  this  matter 
Kacharis  as  a  rule  would  compare  not  unfavourably  with  the 
working  man  in  more  civilised  lands;  e.g.,  in  England.  But 
apart  from  this  particular  failing,  one  almost  universal  among 
hill  tribes  on  this  frontier,  it  is  pleasing  to  be  able  to  say  that 
among  them  are  to  be  found  many  simple  virtues  of  great 
price,  i.e.,  honesty,  truthfulness,  straightforwardness  and  a 


general  trustworthiness  deserving  of  all  honour.  In  illustration 
of  their  simple  truthfulness,  even  when  involving  serious 
consequences  to  themselves,  the  writer  recalls  a  story  told  him 
some  years  ago  by  an  officer  in  charge  of  the  subdivision 
of  Mangaldai,  the  late  A.  J.  Primrose,  I.C.S.  A  Kachari  of 
Sekhar  Mauza  was  brought  before  this  magistrate  on  a  charge 
(manslaughter)  involving  a  very  heavy  penalty,  when  he 
without  hesitation  admitted  his  guilt,  though  the  evidence 
against  him  was  of  the  slightest,  or  at  least  utterly  insufficient 
to  secure  a  conviction.  The  relations  of  the  sexes  too  are  on  the 
whole  of  a  very  sound  and  wholesome  character,  far  more  so 
probably  than  in  many  countries  boasting  of  a  higher 
civilisation.  Infant  marriage  is  as  yet  unknown  among  them, 
and  so  far  as  the  present  writer  has  been  able  to  ascertain 
during  the  past  forty  years,  the  young  people  are  as  a  rule  chaste 
before  marriage  and  true  to  their  marriage  vows  in  after-life. 
But  it  must  be  clearly  understood  that  all  this  holds  good  of 
the  Kachari  in  his  simple,  patriarchal,  village  life,  and  there 
only.  His  innocence  is  the  innocence  of  ignorance,  not  the 
innocence  of  experience :  and  he  is  as  a  rule  free  from  certain 
forms  of  evil  because  in  his  village  life  he  has  never  come  under 
any  temptation  to  indulge  in  them.  When  contaminated 
by  civilization,  e.g.,  when  brought  into  contact  with  our  civil 
and  criminal  courts,  much  of  this  innocence  must  inevitably 
disappear ;  and  of  this  sad  deterioration  of  character  any  man 
who  has  been  long  in  the  country,  and  learnt  to  know  the 
people  well,  must  have  experienced  many  melancholy  and 
painful  illustrations. 

II.  The  origin  of  the  Kachari  race  is  still  very  largely  Origin, 
a  matter  of  conjecture  and  inference,  in  the  absence  of  anything  &c- 
entitled  to  be  regarded  as  authentic  history.  As  remarked 
above,  in  feature  and  general  appearance  they  approximate  very 
closely  to  the  Mongolian  type ;  and  this  would  seem  to  point 
to  Tibet  and  China  as  the  original  home  of  the  race.  The 
Garos,  a  race  obviously  near  of  kin  to  the  Kacharis,  have 
a  tradition  that  in  the  dim  and  distant  past  their  forefathers, 
i.e.,  nine  headmen,  the  offspring  of  a  Hindu  fakir  and  a  Tibetan 
woman,  came  down  from  the  northern  mountains,  and.  after 
a  halt  at  Koch-Behar,  made  their  way  to  Jogighopa,  and  thence 


across  the  Brahmaputra  to  Dalgoma,  and  so  finally  into  the  Garo 
Hills.  It  is  not  easy  to  say  what  degree  of  value  is  to  be 
attached  to  this  tradition,  but  it  does  at  least  suggest  a  line 
of  inquiry  that  might  well  be  followed  up  with  advantage.1 

It  is  possible  that  there  were  at  least  two  great  immigrations 
from  the  north  and  north-east  into  the  rich  valley  of  the 
Brahmaputra,  i.e.,  one  entering  North-east  Bengal  and  Western 
Assam  through  the  valley  of  the  Tista,  Dharla,  Sankosh,  &c., 
and  founding  there  what  was  formerly  the  powerful  kingdom 
of  Kamarupa;  and  the  other  making  its  way  through  the 
Subansiri,  Dibong  and  Dihong  valleys  into  Eastern  Assam, 
where  a  branch  of  the  widespread  Kachari  race,  known  as 
Chutiyas,  undoubtedly  held  sway  for  a  lengthened  period. 
The  capital  quarters  of  this  last-mentioned  people  (the  Chutiyas) 
was  at  or  near  the  modern  Sadiya,  not  far  from  which  certain 
ruins  of  much  interest,  including  a  copper-roofed  temple 
(Tdmdr  ghar),  are  still  to  be  seen.  It  is  indeed  not  at  all 
unlikely  that  the  people  known  to  us  as  Kacharis  and  to 
themselves  as  Bada  (Bara),  were  in  earlier  days  the  dominant 
race  in  Assam;  and  as  such  they  would  seem  to  have  left  traces 
of  this  domination  in  the  nomenclature  of  some  of  the  physical 
features  of  the  country,  e.g.,  the  Kachari  word  for  water  (di;d8i) 
apparently  forms  the  first  syllable  of  the  names  of  many  of  the 
chief  rivers  of  the  province,  such  as  Diputa,  Dihong,  Dibong, 
Dibru,  Dihing,  Dimu,  Desang,  Diku  (cf.  khu  Tista),  &c.,  and 
to  these  may  be  added  Dikrang,  Diphu,  Digaru,  &c.,  all  near 
Sadiya,  the  earliest  known  centre  of  Chutiya  (Kachari)  power 
and  civilisation. 

III.  But  however  this  may  be,  there  would  seem  to  be  good 
reason  for  believing  that  the  Kachari  (Bada)  race  is  a  much 
more  widely  distributed  one  than  it  was  at  one  time  supposed 
to  be.  They  are  undoubtedly  found  well  outside  the 
limits  of  modern  (political)  Assam,  i.e.,  in  North-east  Bengal 
Koch-Behar,  &c.,  and  also  in  Hill  Tippera,  where  the  language 
of  the  people  gives  decisive  evidence  that  they  are  of  the  Bada 
stock.  But  apart  from  these  outlying  members  of  the  race, 
there  are  within  the  limits  of  Assam  itself  at  least  1,000,000 

1  Some  interesting  remarks   on  this  subject  will  be  found  in  the  Garo 
monograph.  — [Ed.  ] 


souls,  probably  many  more,  who  belong  to  the  Kachari  race ; 
though  many  of  the  number  have  of  late  years  become  more  or 
less  Hinduised,  and  have  lost  the  use  of  their  mother  tongue. 
These  may  perhaps  be  conveniently  divided  into  a  (1)  Northern 
and  (2)  a  Southern  group,  the  Brahmaputra  being  taken 
roughly  as  the  dividing  line,  thus : — 



Chief  habitat. 

I.    Nc 
1.  BAra  (Kachari)   

trthern  Group 

(See  Bryan 

15-18  fami- 
lies only 

uthern  Group 





Western  Darrang,  Kachari 
Duars,    and     in    North 
North-east  Bengal. 

On  Northern  Frontier  from 
Jalpaiguri     to     North- 
west Darrang. 
Only  in    Mangaldai    Sub- 
Western     Darrang.       All 
slightly  Hinduised   Ka- 

North  Cachar  Hills. 
Do.            and  Nowgong. 
South-west   Nowgong  and 
adjoining  districts. 
On  Garo  Hills  and  at  foot 
of  same. 
On  plains  adjoining  south- 
ern slope  of    the  Garo 
Hill  Tippera,  &c. 

2.  Rabhd  (Totala)   

3.  Mech(Mes)  

4    Dhiroal           

5.  Koch  

6.  Solanimivas        

7.  Mahaliyas    "j 
Phulgariyas  >  

Saraniyas     J 

II.     So 

1.  Di-ma-sa  "big-  water-folk"... 
2.  Hojais  

3.  Lalungs    

4.  Garos    

5.  Hai  jongs  

6.  Hill  Tippera  (Tripura)  people 

To  these  may  be  added  one  or  two  smaller  communities,  e.g., 
the  Morans  and  the  Chutiyas  in  Upper  Assam,  whose  language, 
not  altogether  extinct  as  yet  though  apparently  dying  out 
rapidly,  would  seem  to  prove  them  to  be  closely  akin  to  the 
Kachari  (Bada)  race. 

IV.  The  only  branch  of  this  widely  spread  race  that  may  be  Historic 
said  to  have  anything  like  an  authentic  history  is  that  settled  Sketch- 
in  what  is  known  is  the  once  powerful  kingdom  of  Kamarupa 
(Koch),  the  reigning  family  of  which  is  now  represented  by  the 


Rajas  of  Koch-Behar,  Bijni,  Darrang  (Mangaldai)  and  Beltola. 
But  on  the  history  of  this  (the  Western)  section  of  the  Kachari 
race  there  is  no  need  to  dwell,  as  it  was  very  effectively  dealt 
with  some  few  years  ago.1  But  the  earliest  historical  notices 
of  the  Eastern  branch  of  the  race  show  that  under  the  name  of 
Chutiyas  they  had  established  a  powerful  kingdom  in  the 
Eastern  corner  of  the  Province,  the  seat  of  Government  being 
at  or  near  the  modern  Sadiya.  How  long  this  kingdom  existed 
it  is  now  impossible  to  say;  but  what  is  known  with  some 
degree  of  certainty  is,  that  they  were  engaged  in  a  prolonged 
struggle  with  the  Ahoms,  a  section  of  the  great  Shan  (Tai) 
race,  who  crossed  the  Patkoi  Hills  from  the  South  and  East 
about  A.D.  1228,  and  at  once  subdued  the  Morans,  Borahis, 
and  other  Kachari  tribes  living  near  the  Northern  slope  of 
these  hills.  With  the  Chutiyas  the  strife  would  seem  to  have 
been  a  long  and  bitter  one,  lasting  for  some  150  or  200  years. 
But  in  the  end  the  victory  remained  with  the  Ahoms,  who 
drove  their  opponents  to  take  refuge  in  or  about  Dimapur  on 
the  Dhansiri  at  the  foot  of  the  Naga  Hills.  There  for  a  time 
the  fugitives  were  in  comparative  security  and  they  appear  to 
have  attained  to  a  certain  measure  of  material  civilisation,  a 
state  of  things  to  which  some  interesting  remains  of  buildings 
(never  as  yet  properly  explored)  seem  to  bear  direct  and  lasting 
witness.  Eventually,  however,  their  ancient  foes  followed  them 
up  to  their  new  capital,  and  about  the  middle  of  the  sixteenth 
century  the  Ahoms  succeeded  in  capturing  and  sacking 
Dimapur  itself.  The  Kachdri  Raja  thereupon  removed  his 
court  to  Maibong  ("  much  paddy "),  where  the  dynasty  would 
seem  to  have  maintained  itself  for  some  two  centuries.  Finally, 
however,  under  pressure  of  an  attack  by  the  Jaintia  Raja  the 
Kachari  sovereign  withdrew  from  Maibong  to  Khaspur  in 
Kachar  (circa  1750  A.D.).  There  they  seem  to  have  come 
more  and  more  under  Hindu  influence,  until  about  1790  the 
Raja  of  that  period,  Krishna  Chandra,  and  his  brother  Govinda 
Chandra  made  a  public  profession  of  Brahminism.  They  were 
both  placed  for  a  time  inside  the  body  of  a  large  copper  image 
of  a  cow,  and  on  emerging  thence  were  declared  by  the 

1  See   "Koch  Kings  of   Kamrup,"   by   E.    A.    Gait,  Esq.,  I.C.S.,  Assam 
Secretariat  Press  P.O.,  1895. 


Brahmins  to  be  Hindus  of  the  Kshatriya  caste,  Bhlma  of 
Mahabharat  fame  being  assigned  to  them  as  a  mythological 
ancestor.  Hence  to  this  day  the  Darrang  Kacharis  sometimes 
speak  of  themselves  as  "  Bhlm-nl-fsa,"  i.e.  children  of  Bhim, 
though  as  a  rule  they  seem  to  attach  little  or  no  value  to  this 
highly  imaginative  ancestry. 

The  reign  of  the  last  Kachari  king,  Govind  Chandra,  was 
little  better  than  one  continuous  flight  from  place  to  place 
through  the  constant  attacks  of  the  Burmese,  who  finally 
compelled  the  unhappy  monarch  to  take  refuge  in  the  adjoining 
British  district  of  Sylhet.  He  was,  indeed,  reinstated  in  power 
by  the  aid  of  the  East  India  Company's  troops  in  1826,  but 
was  murdered  some  four  years  later,  when  his  kingdom  became 
part  of  the  British  dominions.  His  commander-in-chief,  one 
Tula  Ram,  was  allowed  to  remain  in  possession  of  a  portion, 
of  the  subdivision  now  known  as  North  Cachar,  a  region  shown 
in  old  maps  of  Assam  as  "  Tula  Ram  Senapati's  country."  But 
on  the  death  of  this  chieftain  in  1854,  this  remaining  portion 
of  the  old  Kachari  Raj  was  formally  annexed  to  the  district 
of  Nowgong. 

As  regards  this  last-mentioned  migration,  i.e.,  from  Maibong 
to  Khaspur  about  A.D.  1750,  and  the  conversion  to  Hinduism 
which  soon  followed  it,  it  would  seem  that  the  movement  was  only 
a  very  limited  and  restricted  one,  confined  indeed  very  largely 
to  the  Raja  and  the  members  of  his  court.  The  great  majority 
of  his  people  remained  in  the  hill  country,  where  to  this  day 
they  retain  their  language,  religion,  customs,  &c.,  to  a  great 
extent  intact.  It  is  not  improbable,  indeed,  that  this  statement 
may  hold  good  of  the  earlier  migrations  also,  i.e.,  those  that 
resulted  from  the  prolonged  struggle  between  the  Ahoms  and 
the  Chutiyas.  When  as  a  result  of  that  struggle  the  defeated 
race  withdrew  first  to  Dimapur  and  afterwards  to  Maibong,  it  is 
not  unlikely  that  the  great  body  of  the  Chutiyas  (Kacharis) 
which  remained  in  the  rich  valley  of  Assam  came  to  terms  with 
their  conquerors  (the  Ahoms)  and  gradually  became  amal- 
gamated with  them,  much  as  Saxons,  Danes,  Normans,  &c., 
slowly  but  surely  became  fused  into  one  nationality  in  the 
centuries  following  the  battle  of  Hastings.  In  this  way  it  may 
well  be  that  the  Kachari  race  were  the  original  autochthones 


of  Assam,  and  that  even  now,  though  largely  Hinduised,  they 
still  form  a  large,  perhaps  the  main,  constituent  element  in  the 
permanent  population  of  the  Province.  To  this  day  one  often 
comes  across  villages  bearing  the  name  of  "  Kacharigaon,"  the 
inhabitants  of  which  are  completely  Hinduised,  though  for  some 
considerable  time  they  would  seem  to  have  retained  their  Kachari 
customs,  &c.,  unimpaired.  It  may  be  that,  whilst  the  great  body 
of  the  Chutiya  (Kachari)  race  submitted  to  their  Ahom  con- 
querors, the  stronger  and  more  patriotic  spirits  among  them,  influ- 
enced perhaps  by  that  intense  clannishness  which  is  so  marked  a 
feature  in  the  Kachari  character,  withdrew  to  less  favoured  parts 
of  the  Province,  where  their  conquerors  did  not  care  at  once  to 
follow  them  up ;  i.e.,  the  Southern  section  of  the  race  may  have 
made  its  way  into  the  districts  known  as  the  Garo  Hills  and  North 
Cachar ;  whilst  the  Northern  section  perhaps  took  up  its  abode 
in  a  broad  belt  of  country  at  the  foot  of  the  Bhutan  Hills,  still 
known  as  the  "  Kachari  Duars,"  a  region  which,  being  virtually 
"  Terai "  land,  had  in  earlier  days  a  very  unenviable  reputation  on 
the  score  of  its  recognised  unhealthiness.  And  if  this  view  of  the 
matter  be  at  all  a  sound  one,  what  is  known  to  have  happened 
in  our  own  island  may  perhaps  furnish  a  somewhat  interesting 
"  historic  parallel."  When  about  the  middle  of  the  fifth  century 
the  Romans  finally  withdrew  from  Britain,  we  know  that 
successive  swarms  of  invaders,  Jutes,  Danes,  Saxons,  Angles,  &c., 
from  the  countries  adjoining  the  North  and  Baltic  seas, 
gradually  overran  and  occupied  the  richer  lowland  of  what  is 
now  England,  driving  all  who  remained  alive  of  the  aboriginal 
Britons  to  take  refuge  in  the  less  favoured  parts  of  the  country, 
i.e.,  the  mountains  of  Wales  and  the  highlands  of  Scotland,  where 
many  of  the  people  of  this  day  retain  their  ancient  mother 
speech  :  very  much  as  the  Kacharis  of  Assam  still  cling  to  their 
national  customs,  speech,  religion,  &c.,  in  those  outlying  parts  of 
the  Province  known  in  modern  times  as  the  Garo  Hills,  North 
Cachar  and  the  Kachari  Duars  of  North-west  Assam, 
nal  V.  It  may  perhaps  be  asked  how  a  people  so  clannish  and 

P*1" V     united  as  the  Kacharis  are  well  known  to  be,  should  ever  become 
jrthern  so  widely  separated  as  the  Western  (Bara)  and  Southern  (Dimasa) 
uthern  sections  now  undoubtedly  are.     The  separation  would  seem  to 
be  almost  final  and  complete.     The  writer,  e.g.,  has  often  tried 


to  ascertain  if  the  Kacharis  of  the  Northern  Duars  retained  any  Sections 
tradition  of  ever  having  been  subject  to  the  Raja  of  Dimapur ;  °^e  e 
but  up  to  the  present  time  no  trace  of  any  such  tradition  has 
•come  to  light.  Intermarriage  between  the  two  sections  of  the 
race  is  apparently  quite  unknown ;  indeed,  the  barrier  of  language 
would  of  itself  probably  go  far  to  prevent  such  intermarriage : 
for  although  the  two  languages  have  much  in  common,  yet  in 
their  modern  form  they  differ  from  each  other  nearly  as  much 
as  Italian  does  from  Spanish ;  and  members  of  the  two  sections 
of  the  race  meeting  each  other  for  the  first  time  would  almost 
•certainly  fail  to  understand  each  other's  speech.  Perhaps  the 
following  tradition,1  which  apparently  describes  one  of  the  closing 
scenes  in  the  prolonged  struggle  between  the  Chutiya  Kacharis 
and  the  Ahoms,  may  go  some  way  to  account  for  the  wide  separ- 
ation between  the  Northern  and  Southern  sections  of  the  race. 
The  story  is  as  follows: — Long,  long  ago  the  Dimasd  fought 
.against  a  very  powerful  tribe  (the  Ahoms),  and  being  beaten 
in  a  great  pitched  battle,  the  king  with  all  his  forces  retreated. 
But  presently  further  retreat  was  barred  by  a  wide  and  deep 
river,  which  could  in  no  way  be  crossed.  The  Raja,  being  thus 
stopped  by  a  river  in  front  and  an  enemy  behind,  resolved  to  fight 
once  more  the  next  day,  unless  the  problem  of  crossing  the  river 
<jould  be  solved.  With  this  determination  he  went  to  sleep  and 
had  a  dream  in  which  a  god  appeared  to  him  and  promised  to 
help  him.  The  god  said  that  early  next  morning  the  king  with 
all  his  people  must  boldly  enter  the  river  at  a  spot  where  he 
would  see  a  heron  standing  in  the  water,  and  walk  straight 
across  the  river,  but  no  one  must  look  back.  Next  morning  a 
heron  was  found,  sure  enough,  standing  in  the  water  near  the 
bank  ;  and  the  king,  remembering  his  dream,  led  his  people  to 
the  spot  and  went  into  the  water,  which  they  found  had  shoaled 
•enough  to  form  a  ford  and  allow  them  to  wade  across.  In 
this  way  he  crossed  with  a  great  part  of  his  people.  But  still 
all  had  not  crossed.  There  were  some  on  the  other  bank  and 
some  in  the  middle  of  the  river,  when  a  man  among  the  latter 
wondering  whether  his  son  was  following  him,  looked  back,  with 
the  result  that  the  water  at  once  got  deep  and  every  one  had  to 

x  Extracted  from  a  most  interesting  and  valuable  letter  from  Mr.  Dundas, 
kindly  forwarded  for  perusal  to  the  writer  by  B.  C.  Allen,  Esq.,  I.C.S. 


save  himself  as  best  he  could ;  while  the  men  on  the  other 
bank,  having  no  chance  of  crossing,  dispersed.  They  who  were 
caught  in  the  middle  of  the  river  had  to  swim  for  their  lives, 
and  were  washed  down  to  different  places.  Some  saved  them- 
selves by  catching  hold  of  Khdgris  (rushes)  growing  on  the  bank, 
and  are  to  this  day  called  Khdgrdbdria.  Others  caught  hold 
of  nals  (or  reeds)  and  are  thus  called  Nalbarias.  The  Dimasa  are 
the  people  who  crossed  in  safety. 

It  is  fairly  obvious  that  the  Oriental  love  for  the  grotesquely 
marvellous  has  had  no  small  share  in  the  development  of  this- 
tradition;  but  whilst  making  all  due  allowance  for  this,  the 
writer  ventures  to  think  that  the  tradition  itself  is  not 
altogether  without  a  certain  historic  value.  It  probably 
represents  the  closing  scenes  in  the  protracted  struggle  for 
supremacy  between  the  Ahoms  and  the  Chutiyas  (Kacharis) 
when  the  latter,  finally  beaten,  endeavoured  to  escape  their  foes- 
by  crossing  the  Brahmaputra  to  the  South  bank,  using  for  that 
purpose  whatever  material  was  at  hand,  e.g.,  rude  dug-out  boats- 
(khel  ndu},  extemporised  rafts  (bhel},  &c.  The  student  of  Assam 
history  will  remember  that  a  like  mishap  befell  Mir  Jumla's 
expedition  for  the  conquest  of  Assam ;  Rangpur,  Ghergaon,  &c., 
when  a  violent  storm  or  sudden  rise  in  the  river  carried  away 
or  sunk  the  boats  containing  his  ammunition  and  other  stores, 
and  he  was  compelled  to  come  to  terms  with  the  Ahom  rulers, 
A  sudden  storm  or  rapid  rise  in  the  river  may  have  prevented 
many  of  the  fugitives  from  crossing,  and  these  would  perforce 
have  fallen  into  the  hands  of  the  Ahoms.  The  latter,  acting  on 
the  principle  "Divide  et  impera,"  may  have  forced  their 
captives  to  take  up  their  abode  in  the  unhealthy  (Terai) 
country  now  known  as  the  "  Kachari  Duars,"  and  further  may 
have  prohibited  any  communication  between  the  two  severed 
fragments  of  the  conquered  race,  which  would  thenceforth 
naturally  drift  further  asunder,  until  the  separation  became  a* 
complete  as  it  remains  to  this  day. 


IN  their  domestic  life,  the  Kacharis  of  this  district  (Darrang)  Dwell- 
do  not  differ  very  materially  from  their  Hindu  neighbours,  to  *n88> 
the  subordinate  castes  of  whom  they  are  no  doubt  very  closely  &c. 
allied.     The  houses  are  of  the  usual  type,  one-storied  only,  the 
walls  being  of  ekrd  reed  or  of  split  bamboo,  and  the  roof  of 
thatch  fastened  by  cane.     Each  hut   commonly  contains  two 
rooms,  one  for  eating,  &c.,  and  the  other  for  sleeping.      There  is 
no  trace  here  of  the  practice  which  prevails  among  some  tribes 
of  the  Province  who  are  undoubtedly  very  nearly  related   to 
the   Kacharis,  i.e.,  the   provision  of  bachelor-barracks  (Dekd- 
chdngs),  where  all  the  young  unmarried  men   of  the  village 
have  to  sleep  apart  from  the  dwellings  of  settled  householders. 
It  is  probable,  indeed,  that  this  custom  formerly  obtained  here, 
but  all  trace  of  it  seems  to  have  passed  away  long  since. 

A  Kachari  village  is  as  a  rule  much  more  compact  than  a  Villages. 
Hindu  one,  the  houses  being  built  more  closely  together. 
Usually,  too,  there  is  comparatively  little  foliage  in  the  way  of 
trees,  &c. ;  and  occasionally  even  something  like  a  street 
separates  the  two  or  more  lines  of  houses  which  compose  a 
village.  One  prominent  feature  in  the  typical  Kachari  village 
cannot  fail  to  strike  the  attention  of  any  casual  visitor  at  first 
sight.  Each  house,  with  its  granary  and  other  outbuildings,  is 
surrounded  by  a  ditch  and  fence,  the  latter  usually  made  of 
ekrd  reeds,  jungle  grass  or  split  bamboo,  &c.  The  ditch, 
some  three  or  four  feet  in  depth,  surrounds  the  whole  home- 
stead, the  earth  taken  from  it  being  thrown  up  on  the  inner 
side,  i.e.,  that  nearest  to  the  dwelling-house  ;  and  on  the  earth- 
works, some  two  or  three  feet  in  height,  so  thrown  up  are  firmly 




inserted  the  reeds  or  split-bamboo  work  forming  the  fence 
itself,  this  latter  often  inclining  outwards  at  a  very  obtuse 
angle ;  so  that  the  ditch  and  fence  are  not  easily  surmounted 
from  the  outside  by  would-be  intruders.  A  Kachari  village 
usually  abounds  in  domestic  live-stock  of  various  kinds,  e.g., 
ducks,  fowls,  goats,  pigs,  cattle,  &c. ;  and  it  can  hardly  be  doubted 
that  the  fence  and  ditch  above  spoken  of  are  largely  intended 
to  prevent  the  cattle,  pigs,  &c.,  from  getting  into  the  rice-fields 
at  night,  and  so  doing  serious  damage  to  the  paddy  and  other 
crops.  With  the  abundance  of  live-stock,  especially  hogs, 
reared  and  kept  by  the  Kacharis,  it  need  hardly  be  said  that 
the  villages  can  scarcely  be  described  as  being  cleanly ;  though 
as  a  rule  they  do  not  differ  so  much  as  might  be  supposed  in 
this  respect  from  their  Hindu  neighbours,  separate  buildings 
being  provided  for  the  pigs,  goats,  &c.,  at  an  appreciable  distance 
from  the  family  dwelling-house. 


Little  need  be  said  under  this  head,  as  the  equipment  of  the 
Kachari  householder  for  dealing  with  domestic  or  field  work  is 
almost  identical  with  that  of  his  Hindu  neighbours.  But  it 
may  be  stated  that  in  a  Kachari  house  there  will  usually  be 
found  an  exceptionally  large  number  of  earthenware  vessels 
(pottery,  &c.)  which  are  used  freely  and  frequently  in  the 
preparation  and  distribution  of  the  much-prized  rice-beer  (Zu). 

Agriculture  is  still  the  great  industry  of  the  Kacharis  of  this 
district,  both  the  hot  weather  (dus)  and  the  cold  season 
(sali)  varieties  of  rice  being  largely  cultivated,  especially  the 
latter.  In  carrying  out  this  work  the  people  show  both 
application  and  skill,  so  much  so,  that,  failing  some  very  over- 
whelming convulsion  of  Nature,  it  would  seem  to  be  hardly 
possible  that  a  famine  could  take  place  in  the  Kachari  Duars. 
This  part  of  the  district  is  abundantly  supplied  with  water  by 
the  numerous  streams  issuing  from  the  lower  spurs  of  the 
Bhutan  Hills,  streams  which  for  the  most  part  flow  in  very 
shallow  beds,  and  therefore  admit  of  being  easily  used  for 
irrigation  purposes,  whenever  the  seasonal  rainfall  may  be  at  all 
scanty.  Moreover,  the  people  are  especially  skilful  in  the  con- 


struction  of  irrigation  canals  and  earthwork  embankments  for 
diverting  water  from  river-beds  into  their  rice-fields :  and  their 
efforts  in  this  direction  are  very  largely  aided  by  their  closely 
clannish  organisation.  Whenever  the  rainfall  threatens  to  be 
below  the  average,  the  village  headman  with  his  associated 
elders  fixes  on  the  spot  whence  water  is  to  brought  from  the 
nearest  river  to  the  rice-fields.  At  this  spot  very  rude  and 
primitive  shelters  of  jungle  grass,  &c.,  are  put  up :  and  here  all 
the  manhood  strength  of  the  village,  each  man  armed  with  hoe, 
dao,  &c.,  are  compelled  to  take  up  their  abode  until  the 
necessary  work  has  been  fully  carried  out.  In  this  way  it  will 
be  obvious  that  the  Kacharis  have  a  highly  efficient  and  very 
inexpensive  "  Public  Works  Department "  of  their  own ;  and 
vigorous  efforts  of  self-help  of  this  character  would  seem  to  be 
worthy  of  high  commendation  and  hearty  support. 

But  it  is  not  only  in  constructing  embankments  and  irriga- 
tion canals,  &c.,  that  the  people  work  together  in  this  way. 
Very  much  the  same  plan  is  adopted  in  carrying  out  other 
enterprises  in  the  success  of  which  all  are  alike  interested,  e.g., 
in  harvesting  the  great  cold  weather  rice-crop  in  December  and 
January  each  year.  When  this  important  work  is  in  full  swing, 
it  is  but  rarely  that  the  owner  of  a  rice-field  is  found  cutting 
his  paddy  alone  and  single-handed.  He  summons  his  neigh- 
bours to  come  and  help  him  in  this  work — a  summons  which 
usually  meets  with  a  ready  and  cheerful  response.  It  is  quite 
common  to  see  in  December  and  January  organised  bodies 
of  labourers,  varying  in  number  from  ten  to  fifty  or  more, 
all  in  line  and  busy  with  the  sickle  in  one  man's  field  at  the 
same  time.  Every  man  as  a  rule  works  for  the  time  being 
at  high  pressure,  his  toil  being  lightened  by  much  merry  talk 
and  laughter,  and  many  jests  and  jokes — these  last,  it  must  be 
admitted,  not  always  of  a  highly  refined  character.  There  is 
a  pleasing  absence  of  the  mercenary  element  in  the  whole 
transaction;  for  as  a  rule  no  money  payments  whatever  are 
made  to  the  workers.  On  the  other  hand,  the  wife  of  the 
proprietor  of  the  rice-field  is  almost  always  present  in  person, 
and  busies  herself  in  keeping  ever  ready  an  abundant  supply 
of  wholesome  and  highly  appetising  cooked  food,  to  be  eaten  on 
the  spot,  the  nearest  grove  of  plantain  trees  providing  ready- 


made  plates  and  dishes.  Her  post  is  no  sinecure,  as  the  hungry 
reapers  make  very  frequent  raids  on  the  good  things  she 
provides ;  and  she  has  above  all  to  be  careful  to  see  that  the 
much  prized  rice -beer  (Zii)  shall  be  at  all  times  forthcoming  in 
unstinted  quantity.  Her  lord  and  master  is  usually  content 
to  wield  a  sickle  with  the  reapers,  like  Boaz  of  old ;  and,  of 
course,  he  holds  himself  ready  to  lend  a  hand  in  the  same 
unpaid  fashion  in  carrying  out  his  neighbours'  harvesting 
operations,  whenever  his  services  in  this  direction  may  be  called 
for.  This  whole  system  of  mutual  help  in  time  of  pressure 
is  a  marked  feature  of  Kachari  social  and  domestic  life,  and 
tends  in  no  small  degree  to  develop  and  strengthen  that 
clannish  temperament  of  which  it  may  be  considered  to  be  in 
some  sense  the  natural  outcome. 

Crops,  &c.  Rice,  roughly  classified  as  the  larger  and  the  smaller  grains 
(maimd  and  maisti),  is  here,  as  elsewhere,  the  chief  object  of  the 
peasant's  skill  and  labour;  but  other  crops  are  not  wanting, 
e.g.,  pulse,  gathered  in  December,  cotton,  sugar-cane  in  limited 
quantities,  tobacco,  &c.  Of  this  last-mentioned  article  there 
are  two  distinct  varieties  commonly  grown,  i.e.,  country  tobacco 
and  Burmese l  (Mdn)  tobacco,  the  latter  commanding  the  higher 
price  in  the  market.  All  surplus  produce  finds  a  ready  sale 
among  the  ever-growing  numbers  of  imported  labourers  on 
tea  estates,  many  of  whom  are  consumers  of  Kachari  rice-beer 
or  less  harmless  liquors,  and  who  in  consequence  fraternise 
readily  with  their  Kachari  neighbours.  In  this  way  the  average 
Bodo  peasant  is  a  very  well-to-do  person  in  worldly  things,  the 
more  so  because  the  Kachari  labourer  is  in  great  demand  as 
a  factory  worker.  Where  there  are  three  or  four  brothers  in  a 
family  in  Western  Assam,  it  is  quite  usual  for  one,  perhaps  two, 
of  the  number  to  remain  at  home  to  cultivate  the  paternal 
acres,  whilst  the  other  brothers  make  their  way  to  tea  estates 
in  Upper  Assam  for  the  manufacturing  season,  often  doing 
double  tasks  day  after  day,  and  returning  to  the  family  fold  in 
the  autumn  with  a  large  and  liberal  supply  of  lightly  earned 
rupees  at  each  man's  disposal. 

Food,  &c.       As  regards  his  food,  the  Kachari  is  as  a  rule  by  no  means 
limited  and  restricted,  like  his  Hindu  and  Musulman  neigh- 
1  The  Assamese  habitually  speak  of  the  Burmese  people  as  Mdn. 


hours.  On  the  contrary,  he  enjoys  and  practises  a  freedom  in 
this  respect  which  no  doubt  goes  far  to  account  for  his  often 
magnificent  physique.  With  the  exception  of  beef  he  denies 
himself  almost  nothing.  His  great  delicacy  is  pork;  and  a 
Kachari  village  usually  swarms  with  pigs  in  almost  every 
possible  stage  of  growth.  These  animals  are  often  exposed  for 
sale  at  fairs  and  markets  in  the  Kachari  country.  There  is, 
however,  one  common  article  of  food,  which  no  orthodox  old- 
fashioned  Kachari  will  ever  touch,  i.e.,  milk.  When  questioned 
as  to  the  ground  of  his  objection  to  milk  as  an  article  of  food, 
he  usually  says  that  he  is  unwilling  to  deprive  the  calf  of  its 
natural  support,  though  the  real  reason  is  probably  of  another 
character.1  This  prejudice  against  the  use  of  milk  would  now, 
however,  seem  to  be  passing  away ;  and  some  of  the  Kachari 
lads  attending  the  writer's  Training  Class  at  Tezpur  now 
partake  freely  of  this  natural  and  sustaining  food. 

Among  other  delicacies  of  the  Kachari  is  what  is  known  as 
dried  fish  (nci  gran),2  i.e.,  the  very  small  fish  left  on  the 
surface  of  inundated  land  after  the  water  has  subsided.  This 
is  collected  in  large  quantities  near  the  banks  of  the  Brahma- 
putra, and  carried  northwards  to  the  Kachari  Duars,  where  it  is 
exchanged  for  rice  and  silk  (eri),  &c.  This  small  fish  is  not 
cured  or  prepared  in  any  way,  but  simply  dried  in  the  sun  ;  and 
is  very  far  from  being  attractive  to  the  eye  or  the  nose, 
especially  to  the  latter.  Nevertheless,  it  is  greatly  prized  by 
the  Kachari  peasant  as  a  welcome  and  savoury  addition  to  his 
somewhat  monotonous  daily  fare  ;  nor  does  the  free  use  of  this 
hardly  inviting  article  of  food  seem  to  be  attended  by  any  very 
injurious  results  to  the  physical  well-being  of  those  who 
largely  and  liberally  use  it. 

The  Kachari  often  varies  his  diet  by  adding  to  it  the  Hunting, 
proceeds  of  the  chase  and  by  fishing  in  the  numerous  shallow 
hill-streams  in  which  his  country  abounds.  Deer  and  wild  pigs 
are  frequently  caught,  sometimes  by  the  use  of  large  nets, 
enclosing  a  considerable  extent  of  grass  land  in  which  some 
keen  eye  has  detected  the  presence  of  the  much-prized  game. 

1  This  prejudice  is  shared  by  the  Garos  and  by  many  other  members  of  the 
Mongolian  race. — [Ed.] 

2  Cf.  the  Burmese  ngd-pi.     Query,  is  the  name  a  corruption  of  nd-ghrdn, 
in  allusion  to  the  powerful  odour  of  fish  thus  dried? — [Ed.] 


The  net  is  gradually  contracted  until  the  prey  comes  within 
the  reach  of  some  stout  Kachari  arm,  when  blows  from  club 
or  dao  speedily  bring  its  career  to  a  close.  In  this,  as  in  almost 
all  else,  the  Kachari  is  clannish  and  gregarious  in  what 
he  does ;  and  regular  hunting  parties  are  duly  organised 
to  carry  out  the  work  in  hand.  Much  the  same  system  is 
observed  in  conducting  fishing  operations,  though  here  the 
leading  part  is  commonly  taken  by  the  women.  On  certain 
prearranged  dates,  the  women  of  a  village,  sometimes  of  a  group 
of  villages,  will  fish  a  certain  stream,  or  a  number  of  streams, 
for  a  distance  extending  over  several  miles.  The  fishing 
implements  used  are  of  a  very  simple  character,  and  are 
commonly  prepared  from  materials  found  in  almost  every 
village.  Nets  are  but  rarely  employed,  as  the  water  in  these 
hill-streams  is  in  the  cold  weather,  i.e.,  the  fishing  season,  usually 
very  shallow,  rarely  exceeding  two  or  three  feet  in  depth.  The 
implements  commonly  used  are  mainly  two,  i.e.,  (1)  the  zakhdi  l 
and  (2)  the  pcilha,  the  former  being  employed  chiefly,  but  not 
exclusively,  by  women  ;  and  the  latter  by  men.  Both  imple- 
ments are  made  of  split  bamboo  work  fastened  together  with 
cane.  The  zakhdi  is  a  triangular  basket,  open  at  one 
end,  the  three  triangular  sides  closing  to  a  point  at  the 
other.  The  whole  is  attached  to  a  bamboo  handle  some 
three  or  four  feet  in  length.  Grasping  this  handle  firmly, 
the  holder  enters  the  river,  usually  only  two  or  three  feet 
deep,  and  lowers  the  basket  to  the  bottom,  keeping  the 
open  end  in  front  of  her  person ;  and  then  making  a  splashing 
with  her  feet,  she  endeavours  to  drive  her  prey  into  the  open 
mouth  of  the  basket,  which  is  then  quickly  lifted  and  its 
contents  rapidly  transferred  to  the  fish- basket.  The  system 
seems  to  be  a  very  simple  and  even  a  clumsy  one,  but  is  far 
from  being  wholly  ineffective.  Armed  with  this  zakhdi,  a 
number  of  women,  sufficient  to  extend  across  the  entire  width 
of  the  stream,  enter  the  river  together,  whilst  another  party 
commence  operations  fifty  or  a  hundred  yards  away.  The  two 
parties  work  steadily  towards  each  other,  so  that  such  fish 
as  are  not  caught  en  route  are  gradually  driven  into  an  ever- 
narrowing  stretch  of  water :  and  as  a  rule  not  many  fish  would 
1  Assamese,  jakdi. — [Ed.] 



seem  to  escape.  The  whole  scene  is  a  very  merry  one,  ac- 
companied with  much  laughter  and  pleasing  excitement ;  and 
more  particularly,  as  the  two  parties  of  fish-catchers  approach 
each  other,  and  the  fish  make  frantic  efforts  to  escape  their 
doom,  the  fun  becomes  fast  and  furious.  A  fish-catching 
expedition  of  this  kind  is  invariably  looked  upon  as  a  village 
holiday,  the  entire  population  not  infrequently  taking  an  active 
part  in  it. 

A  second  popular  method  of  catching  fish  is  the  use  of 
the  palhd,  which  is  not  very  unlike  an  ordinary  circular  hen- 
coop. It  is  made  of  split  bamboo  fastened  together  by  cane- 
work,  and  is  about  4  or  4|  feet  in  height  and  about  3  feet  in 
diameter  at  the  base.  The  upper  portion  is  drawn  somewhat 
closely  together,  leaving  an  open  space  at  the  top  sufficient  to 
allow  the  admission  of  a  man's  hand,  the  whole  structure  being 
quite  light  and  easily  manipulated  by  one  hand.  Armed  with 
this,  the  fisherman  quietly  enters  the  shallow  water  at  any 
likely  spot,  and  whenever  his  quick  eye  detects  the  presence  of 
prey,  the  pdlhd  is  at  once  placed  over  it,  the  lower  surface  of 
the  basket-work  closely  clutching  the  ground,  and  the  fish  so 
enclosed  are  then  withdrawn  by  the  hand  through  the  opening 
in  the  upper  part  of  the  instrument.  This  too,  like  the  zakhdi, 
seems  a  very  primiiive,  unsuitable  contrivance,  but  in  the  hands 
of  men  trained  to  its  use  from  earliest  childhood  it  is  quite 
capable  of  being  made  to  bring  about  very  useful  results. 

A  third  instrument  used  by  Kacharis  in  fish-catching  is  a 
small,  pointed,  metallic  spearhead  attached  to  a  light  bamboo. 
This  is  thrust  rapidly  and  firmly  into  soft  mud  or  other  like 
places  where  eels,  &c.,  are  supposed  to  be  concealed ;  and  the 
fisherman  occasionally  succeeds  in  transfixing  and  drawing  out 
one  or  more  of  these,  which  form  a  welcome  addition  to  his 
daily  diet. 

In   common   with   many   other  non-Aryan    tribes    on   this  Rice-beer 
frontier,  e.g.,  the  Nagas,&c.,  the  Kacharis  of  Darrang  habitually  |,r"^ra! 
consume  large  quantities  of  what  is  usually  known  as  rice-beer  tion,  &c. 
(Zu,  Zdu).    It  can  hardly  be  said  to  be  a  beverage  in  daily  use, 
for  it  is  only  prepared  when  specially  wanted  for  immediate 
consumption.     An  essential  ingredient  in   the   preparation   of 
this  most  popular  form  of  refreshment  is  the  condiment  known 



as  emdo1  which  is  usually  composed  of  at  least  three,  and 
sometimes  four,  distinct  elements.  To  a  definite  proportion  of 
husked  rice  is  added  (1)  the  jack-tree  leaf  and  (2)  that  of  the 
jungle  plant  known  as  bhetai,  and  in  some  cases  the  poison- 
fern,  though  this  last-mentioned  does  not  seem  to  be  really 
necessary.  All  these  ingredients  are  vigorously  pounded 
together  into  a  powder,  which  is  then  passed  through  a  very 
fine  sieve,  at  least  once  and  sometimes  twice.  The  powder  so 
prepared  is  then  mixed  with  water  so  as  to  make  a  more  or  less 
tenacious  paste,  and  this  again  is  divided  into  portions  sufficient 
to  form  solid  discs,  about  three  inches  in  diameter,  and  one 
inch  thick  in  the  centre,  with  thin  edges.  These  discs  are 
sprinkled  freely  with  powder  from  similar  discs  of  some  weeks 
standing,  and  are  for  a  short  time  kept  covered  up  in  rice-straw. 
They  are  then  placed  on  a  bamboo  platform  inside  the  house 
for  some  four  days,  and  are  afterwards  exposed  freely  to  the  hot 
sun  for  another  four  or  five  days,  so  as  to  become  thoroughly 
dry.  Finally  they  find  their  way  into  an  earthenware  water- 
vessel,  which  is  kept  suspended  at  a  distance  of  several  feet 
over  the  fireplace  though  they  would  seem  to  need  no  direct 
exposure  to  the  action  of  fire-heat;  and  here  they  remain 
until  required  for  use. 

As  mentioned  above,  rice-beer  is  not  used  as  a  daily  beverage, 
but  is  prepared  as  required,  especially  for  use  at  marriages, 
funerals,  harvest  homes  and  other  occasions  that  break  the 
monotony  of  village  life.  A  common  method  of  preparation  is 
as  follows  : — A  quantity  of  selected  rice,  about  3  or  4  seers,  is 
carefully  boiled  in  an  iron  or  brass  cooking  vessel,  the  contents 
of  which  are  then  spread  out  on  a  bamboo  mat  and  allowed  to 
become  cold.  Two  cakes  of  the  eniiAo  described  above  are 
then  broken  up  into  powder,  which  is  carefully  mixed  with  the 
boiled  rice ;  and  the  whole  is  then  stored  in  a  thoroughly  dry 
earthenware  vessel  (kolas).  This  vessel  with  its  contents  is 
then  placed  upon  a  platform  some  five  feet  high  over  a  slow  fire, 
in  which  position  it  is  allowed  to  remain  for  some  three  or  four 
days,  the  mouth  of  the  vessel  remaining  open  for  the  first  day 
or  two,  though  it  is  afterwards  covered.  It  only  then  remains  to 

1  This  is  what  Bengali  distillers  call  bdkhar.  It  is  usually  purchased  by 
them  from  hill-men.— [Ed.] 


add  water  ad  libitum,  and  to  pour  out  the  beer,  after  well 
shaking  the  vessel,  through  a  rude  straining  apparatus  composed 
of  rice-straw.  It  is  said  that  the  direct  action  of  fire  is  not 
really  needed  in  the  preparation  of  this  beer  and  that  exposure 
to  the  sun  is  sufficient  for  the  purpose,  though  the  application 
of  fire  undoubtedly  quickens  the  process.  Rice  prepared  in 
this  way  may  be  kept  in  the  earthenware  vessel  for  six  or 
twelve  months,  a  fresh  supply  of  boiled  rice  and  condiment 
(emdo)  being  added  to  the  old  from  time  to  time;  but 
the  beer  is  rarely  kept  in  this  way  for  any  very  prolonged 
period,  though  its  quality  is  said  to  be  improved  by  such 

It  may  perhaps  be  added  that  the  beverage  so  prepared 
would  seem  to  be  a  thoroughly  wholesome  or  at  least  a 
comparatively  harmless  one.  Very  large  quantities  are,  to  the 
writer's  knowledge,  sometimes  consumed  at  a  sitting,  the 
consumer's  brain  apparently  remaining  wholly  unaffected 
thereby.  There  is,  however,  a  far  less  innocent  beverage, 
commonly  known  as  phatikd,  prepared  from  this  rice-beer  by 
a  process  of  distillation.  This  is  a  raw  fiery  spirit,  somewhat 
resembling  in  taste  the  crudest  possible  whisky ;  and  its  use 
might  very  fittingly  be  put  under  severe  restrictions  by  taxation l 
or  otherwise,  with  results  most  beneficial  to  the  physical,  mental 
and  moral  well-being  of  this  very  interesting  race. 

One  of  the  chief  industries,  a  very  profitable  one  among  the  Eri  silk 
Kachdris,  is  that  of  the  culture  of  the  silk-worm  known  as  culture- 
eri,  and  the  manufacture  of  the  eri  cloth.  The  eri  cocoons, 
which  are  about  2|  or  3  inches  in  length,  may  often  be  seen 
suspended,  a  few  feet  from  the  ground,  in  long  festoons,  a  thin 
cord  being  passed  through  the  base  of  the  cocoons  for  this 
purpose.  In  this  condition  the  cocoons  remain  for  some 
fifteen  days,  at  the  end  of  which  period  the  insects  make  their 
appearance  in  the  butterfly  stage.  Before  they  are  able  to  fly 
away,  they  are  collected  with  care  and  placed  in  a  suitable 
receptacle ;  and  at  the  end  of  three  or  four  days  eggs 
resembling  sago-grains  make  their  appearance  in  great 
numbers.  It  is  said  that  one  insect  can  on  an  average  produce 
from  eighty  to  one  hundred  such  eggs,  or  even  more.  In  a 

1  Possession,  manufacture,  and  sale  of  phatikd  is  prohibited  by  law. — [Ed.] 

C  2 


further  period  of  fifteen  days  the  eggs  are  duly  hatched,  the 
new-born  insect  being  at  first  almost  black,  from  which  colour  it 
passes  to  brown,  and  finally  to  white,  at  intervals  of  three  or  four 
days  ;  and  at  each  change  of  colour  the  worm  is  said  to  cast  its 
skin  in  snake-like  fashion.  Some  four  days  after  the  last  stage 
is  reached,  i.e.,  about  fifteen  days  after  being  hatched,  the  insect 
may  be  expected  to  set  about  the  formation  of  its  cocoon. 
To  assist  it  in  this  work,  small  bundles  of  plantain  or 
mango  leaves  are  loosely  tied  together  and  placed  within  broad 
baskets  or  on  bamboo  platforms,  and  the  insects  are  then  care- 
fully placed  within  these  bundles ;  and  under  favourable 
conditions  the  cocoon  should  be  fully  formed  in  about  twenty- 
four  hours.  The  actual  formation  of  the  cocoon  is  preceded 
by  certain  signs,  very  significant  to  the  Kachari,  i.e.,  the  insect 
itself  refuses  food  for  a  short  time  beforehand  and  becomes  of  a 
light,  brilliant  colour;  and  on  handling  it  gently,  a  soft, 
rustling  sound,  proceeding  from  the  insect  itself,  can  be 
distinctly  heard.  After  being  carefully  cleaned  in  water  and 
dried  in  the  sun,  the  cocoons  are  stowed  away,  usually  in  an 
earthenware  vessel,  until  a  fitting  time,  generally  in  the  dry, 
cold  season,  appears  for  reeling  them  off,  a  work  carried  out  by 
women  and  girls.  It  is  said  that  a  Kachari,  working  steadily 
at  this  occupation,  can  on  an  average  reel  off  some  150  or  200 
cocoons  in  a  day.  During  the  fifteen  days  preceding  the 
formation  of  the  cocoon,  the  insects'  quarters  must  be  kept 
scrupulously  clean,  and  food  carefully  and  regularly  provided 
Its  favourite  viand  is  the  eri  (castor  oil)  plant,1  which  gives  its 
name  alike  to  the  insect  itself  as  well  as  to  the  silk  prepared 
from  its  cocoons.  But  it  also  feeds  freely  on  the  leaves  of 
certain  trees  known  in  Assamese  as  KurungA,  Odmdri  and 
Sangla,  especially  the  first  named  of  the  three. 

The  loom  employed  for  weaving  the  eri  silk  is  of  very  simple 
construction,  and  most,  if  not  all,  the  material  needed  for  the 
purpose  can  be  provided  by  the  villagers  themselves  from  local 

The  market  value  of  a  loom  of  this  character  is  said  to  be 

about  five  rupees.     It  is  usually  set  up  on  a  shady  side  of  the 

dwelling-house,  or,  where  this  is  impracticable,  a  rude  structure 

1  Eranda  ;  Ricinus  communis. 


of  thatch  and  bamboo  work  is  provided  to  shield  the  weaver 
from  the  sun.     The  actual  work  is  always  carried  out  either  by 
the  lady  of  the  house,  or  by  one  of  her  grown-up  daughters ; 
and  it  is  in  ever}?  way  suitable  to  women  workers,  as  it  requires 
very  little  exertion  of  physical  strength,  but  only  a  certain 
quickness  and  readiness  of  eye  and   hand.      The  conditions 
under  which  the    industry  is  carried  on  are   in   all   respects 
pleasing  and  satisfactory.     Indeed,  a  Kachari  woman  working 
placidly  and  contentedly  at  the  eri  loom,  singing  quietly  to 
herself  in  sheer  happiness  of  heart,  offers  perhaps  one  of  the 
most  complete    illustrations   of    the   benevolent   influence   of 
the  Pax  Britannica  to  be  found  in  the  wide  realm  of  India, 
especially  when  it  is  borne  in  mind  that  less  than  seventy  years 
ago  these  Kachari  Duars  were  subject  to  the  Bhutan  Rajas, 
who  seem  to  have  harried  and  plundered  the  people  in  the  most 
cruel  and  lawless  way.     Soon  after  the  master  of  the  house, 
with  one  or  more  grown-up  sons,  has  betaken  himself  to  the 
rice-fields,  and  this  he  does  almost  at  sunrise,  his  goodwife  seats 
herself  at  the  loom,  and  works  away  steadily  until  about  8  or 
9  a.m.,  when   she   may  be   seen   carrying  a  well-cooked   and 
appetising  meal,   carefully  shielded    from   rain  and    sun   by 
plantain  leaves,  to  her  goodman,  who  from  an  early  hour  has 
been  toiling  in  the  fields  for  the  good  of  the  family.     This  duty 
discharged,  she  resumes  her  position  at  the  loom  for  the  greater 
part  of  what  may  remain  of  daylight.     Immediately  in  front 
of  the  loom  there  are  probably  two  or  three  small  children 
(the  Kachari  race  is  a  wholesomely  prolific  one)  gambolling  and 
tumbling  over  each  other  in  high  delight.    To  these  the  mother 
now  and  then  devotes  a  word  or  two  of  remonstrance,  whenever 
their  gambols  seem  to  threaten  an  infantile  breach  of  the  peace ; 
and  she  may  occasionally  rise  from  her  seat  to  administer  some 
little  corporal  chastisement,  though  always  "  more  in  sorrow 
than  in  anger  " ;  but  otherwise  she  devotes  herself  steadily  and 
assiduously  to  the  work  in  hand.     It  is  said  that  a  Kachari 
woman,  if  not  greatly  or  frequently  interrupted  in  her  work,  can 
weave  about  half  a  yard  each  day ;  and,  as  this  eri  cloth,  woven 
in  long  strips  about  two  yards  wide,  can  always  command  a  ready 
sale  at  about  Rs.  2f-  per  yard,  it  will  be  at  once  evident  that  a 
good  worker  can  in  this  way,  without  neglecting  other  urgent 


domestic  duties,  easily  make  a  substantial  addition  to  the  family 

The  fabric  itself  (eri  cloth),  so  produced,  is  one  of  great  value, 
especially  for  use  in  the  cold  season,  being  at  once  soft  and 
warm  as  well  as  remarkably  strong  and  durable.  Of  its  very 
great  merit  in  this  last-mentioned  respect  (durability)  the 
writer  has  good  reason  to  hold  a  very  high  opinion.  Some 
twelve  or  fifteen  years  ago  he  was  presented  with  a  piece  of 
eri  cloth  by  one  Leah  Khangkhuah,  a  good  Kachari  church- 
woman,  living  not  far  from  St.  Paul's  Mission  Church,  at 
Bengbari,  whose  payment  of  her  "  Church  dues "  (tithe)  took 
this  very  pleasing  and  highly  practical  form.  The  quantity 
of  cloth  given  (the  donor  declined  all  money  payment)  was 
sufficient  to  make  two  ample  bed-sheets,  and  in  this  character 
they  have  been  in  use  now  for  at  least  a  dozen  years  past. 
During  that  period  they  have  of  course  been  subjected  to  many 
and  frequent  barbarous  washings;  but  even  the  rough  treatment 
they  have  so  often  received  at  the  hands  of  the  Assamese  dhdbi 
has  as  yet  failed  to  make  any  impression  for  injury  on  the  warp 
and  woof  of  this  sound  material ;  so  substantial  and  conscientious 
is  the  work  done  by  this  good  Kachari  churchwoman  and 

Position,  Among  the  Kacharis  women  do  not  perhaps  occupy  quite 
domestic,  the  same  influential  position  as  seems  to  be  enjoyed  by  their 
of  women.  sisters  jn  the  Khasi  Hills,  where  something  like  a  matriarchate 
apparently  holds  the  field  of  social  and  domestic  life.  Still, 
with  this  interesting  race  the  position  of  the  wife  and  mother 
is  far  from  being  a  degraded  one.  The  Kachari  husband  and 
householder  has  neither  sympathy  with,  nor  tolerance  for,  that 
degrading  and  demoralising  creed  "  which  says  that  woman 
is  but  dust,  a  soul-less  toy  for  tyrant's  lust."  On  the  contrary, 
he  usually  treats  his  wife  with  distinct  respect,  and  regards  her 
as  an  equal  and  a  companion  to  an  extent  which  can  hardly 
be  said  to  be  the  rule  among  many  of  the  Indian  peoples. 
Kachari  women,  both  in  early  life  and  as  matrons,  enjoy  a  large 
measure  of  freedom,  a  freedom  which  is  very  rarely  abused  for 
evil  purposes.  On  being  spoken  to  on  the  wayside,  the  Kachari 
woman  will  generally  reply  at  once  with  absolute  frankness, 
looking  the  questioner  straight  in  the  face  and  yet  with  the 


most  perfect  modesty.  It  has  often  happened  to  the  writer 
during  the  last  forty  years  to  enter  a  Kachari  village  for 
preaching  purposes,  or  with  a  view  to  opening  a  school.  On 
asking  for  the  village  headman,  that  personage  is  usually  not 
slow  in  making  his  appearance  ;  and  after  a  few  friendly  words 
he  will,  quite  as  a  matter  of  course,  introduce  his  wife,  and  that 
with  no  small  pride  and  pleasure.  In  discharging  this  social 
duty,  he  will  very  commonly  use  much  the  same  language  as 
may  be  heard  among  the  working  classes  in  England.  The 
phrase  most  common  is  "  Be  ang-ni  burui,"  literally  "  This  (is) 
my  old  woman."  The  words  are  not  used  jeeringly  at  all,  but 
with  much  real  respect  and  affection  ;  and  are  obviously  so 
regarded  by  the  speaker's  life-partner,  whose  face  and  features, 
somewhat  homely  in  themselves,  may  often  be  seen  to  light  up 
at  once  with  a  very  pleased  and  pleasing  smile  on  hearing 
herself  thus  referred  to  by  the  sharer  of  her  life's  joys  and 
sorrows.  There  is,  too,  another  consideration,  not  perhaps 
altogether  unknown  in  other  parts  of  the  world,  which  has 
great  weight  with  the  Kachari  paterfamilias,  viz.,  that  his  good- 
wife  for  the  most  part  does  not  a  little  to  provide  for  the  family 
needs  in  the  matter  of  food  and  raiment.  Her  prowess  at  the 
loom  has  been  mentioned  before  ;  and  besides  this,  the  actual 
planting  out  of  the  young  rice-seedlings  is  for  the  most  part 
carried  through  by  the  women.  And  all  this  is  habitually  done 
without  in  any  way  neglecting  or  slurring  over  the  usual  duties 
more  strictly  appropriate  to  the  goodvvife  and  mother. 

On  the  whole  it  may  perhaps  be  safely  said  that  the  social 
and  domestic  life  of  the  Kachari  is  not  without  its  pleasing 
and  satisfactory  features.  It  is  probably  for  the  most  part  far 
sounder  and  more  wholesome  than  the  life  of  great  cities, 
whether  in  Asia  or  Europe ;  and  it  is  with  no  little  dismay  and 
sorrow  that  the  writer  would  see  any  hasty  ill-considered 
attempts  made  to  supplant  or  override  this  simple,  primitive, 
patriarchal  life  through  the  introduction  of  a  one-sided, 
materialistic  civilisation. 


FROM  such  information  as  is  available  at  the  present  day  it 
seems  fairly  clear  that  the  internal  and  tribal  organisation  of 
the  Kachari  (Bara)  race  rested  in  early  days,  very  largely  at 
least,  on  a  totemistic  basis,  although  it  is  only  here  and  there 
that  any  real  regard  for  the  totems  can  still  be  said  to  survive. 
In  primitive  days  these  subdivisions,  all  at  one  time  strictly 
endogamous,1  were  probably  very  numerous.  But  in  the  case  of 
many  of  these  sub-tribes  all  trace  of  their  distinct  existence 
would  seem  to  have  passed  away ;  and  no  restrictions  on  the 
intermarriage  of  members  of  such  sub-tribes  as  still  survive  are 
any  longer  recognised.  Among  septs  or  sub-tribes  whose 
names  still  to  some  extent  hold  the  field  may  be  placed  the 
following : — 

1.  Swarga-droi  (Swarga  =  hea,ven).  The  heaven-folk.  This 
sub-tribe  is  said  to  be  the  highest  of  all ;  none  of  its  members 
ever  worked  as  cultivators,  for  as  a  rule  all  deoris,  ojhos, 

1  On  this  point  Col.  Gurdon,  Hon.  Director  of  Ethnography,  Assam,  writes 
as  follows  : — "  I  entertain  grave  doubts  as  to  the  correctness  of  the  author's 
remark  that  the  Kachari  totemistic  clans  were  originally  endogamous.  If  it 
had  not  been  for  the  most  unfortunate  death  of  the  author  before  this  work 
went  to  press,  we  might  have  hoped  to  have  had  some  light  on  this  obscure 
point.  Amongst  the  Mech,  who  are  the  first  cousins  of  the  Kachdris,  and 
who  live  alongside  of  them,  marriage  is  exogamous,  vide  page  124  of  the 
Monograph,  so  also  amongst  the  Garos,  who  may  be  described  as  second 
cousins  of  the  Kacharis.  Mr.  Friel,  Sub-Divisional  Officer  of  Mangaldai, 
which  division  of  the  Darrang  district  contains  a  large  number  of  Kacharis, 
met  an  old  Kachdri  who  stated  quite  positively  that  '  before  the  Dewangari 
war,  Kacharis  were  not  allowed  to  marry  within  their  own  sub-tribe.'  It  is 
true  that  Mr.  Friel's  informant  afterwards  contradicted  himself,  but  I  think 
it  is  quite  possible  his  first  statement  was  the  correct  one.  On  the  other 
hand,  it  should  be  stated  in  favour  of  Mr.  Endle's  theory  that  three  men  were 
found  in  Sekhar  mauza  of  Mangaldai  who  stated  that  in  former  days  '  a 
penance  had  to  be  performed  if  one  married  outside  one's  own  kur.'  My  own 
view,  however,  is  that  stated  above,  and  I  do  not  think  the  statement  that 
the  Kachari  totemistic  clans  were  endogamous  should  be  accepted  without 
further  investigation." 


SECT,  in  LAWS   AND   CUSTOMS  25 

and  others  who  took  a  leading  part  in  religious  ceremonials, 
were  chosen  from  this  subdivision ;  and  the  offerings  made  by 
worshippers  were  held  to  be  sufficient  for  their  maintenance. 

2.  Basumati-droi  (Basumati  =  earth).     The  earth-folk.     This 
clan  has  a  certain  privilege  not  possessed  by  any  other,  i.e.,  its 
members  can  bury  their  dead  without  in  any  way  purchasing 
ground  for  the  grave  or  for  the  erection  of  the  funeral  pyre. 

3.  Mosd-droi  (Mosd  =  tiger),  otherwise  known  in  Darrang  as 
Bdgh-l-aroi  (Bdgh-l-aroi,  the  /  is  probably  inserted  for  reasons  of 
euphony).     The   tiger-folk.     The  members    of  this  sub-tribe 
claim  kindred  with   the   tiger,  and  all  the  inhabitants  of  a 
village  peopled  by  them  go  into  mourning  on  hearing  that  a 
tiger  has  died  in  the  neighbourhood. 

4.  Khdngkhlo-droi.   The  Khangkhlo-folk.    Khangkhlo  is  appar- 
ently the  name  of  a  certain  jungle  grass,  used  freely  both  at 
religious  ceremonials    and    at    festive    gatherings  and  merry- 
makings, of  which  the  Kacharis  are  very  fond. 

5.  Sibing-droi  (Sibing,  sesamum,  the  Assamese    til.}.    The 
sesamum-folk.     This  sub-tribe  is  said  to  be  the  only  one  which 
in  olden  time  was  allowed  to  cultivate  sesamum  plant,  and  its 
members  still  hold  this  plant  in  special  honour. 

6.  Gdndret-droi  (Gdndret,  a  leech  or  slug,  Assamese  Kumze- 
luka).      The  leech-folk.      This   sub-tribe   holds  the  leech  in 
high  regard  and  cannot  under  ordinary  circumstances  kill  it ; 
though    on    occasions    of    certain   religious   ceremonials,   e.g., 
purification  after   a   death   in   the  family,  its  members  were 
required  to  chew  a  leech  with  vegetables  for  a  certain  limited 
period,  though  apparently  only  once  in  a  life-time. 

7.  Ndrze-droi  (ndrze=jute).     The  jute-folk.     This  sub-tribe 
held  jute  in  special  honour,  and  on  occasions  of  great  religious 
ceremonials  its  members  were  bound  to  chew  a  certain  quantity 
of  jute  (see  No.  6). 

8.  Doimd-roi  (Doimd  =  &  large  river)  (c/.  Dimasa  [doimd-sd], 
the  usual  designation  of  the  people  of  the  North  Cachar  Hills). 
The  river-folk.     These  in  olden  time  were  the  fisherman  class, 
though  its  surviving  members  are  now  merged  among  the  mass 
of  ordinary  cultivators. 

9.  Bibiziyd-droi  (Bibina  =  to  beg).     The  begging-folk.     Pro- 
fessional mendicants  having  no  fixed  home  or  regular  occupation, 
much  like  the  modern  Fakirs,  Vairagis,  &c. 


10.  Bing-bing-droi  (Bing-bing,   probably   an   onomatopoetic 
word   indicating  a  sound   more  or   less   musical).      Itinerant 
musicians,  subsisting  on  the  voluntary  offerings  of   those  to 
whom  they  ministered.     The  writer  has  occasionally  seen  one 
or  two  members  of  this  class  in  Kachari  villages. 

11.  Ding-droi    (dingd  =  &    bamboo   water- vessel    [Assamese 
Chungd]).1    The  dinga-fo\k.     The  members  of  this  sub-tribe 
are  said  to  have  formerly  earned  their  livelihood  by  making, 
these  bamboo  water- vessels. 

12.  Goi-bdri-droi  (ffoi  =  the  areca-palm 2).      The  areca-folk  ; 
formerly  devoted  to  the  cultivation  of  the  areca,  of  which  they 
perhaps  held  the  monopoly. 

In  addition  to  the  above  sub-tribes,  all  at  one  time  strictly 
endogamous,  though  now  no  longer  so,  the  following  may  be 
mentioned.  It  may  be  noted  that  these  are  recognised,  in 
Kamrup  at  least,  mostly  to  the  north  of  the  great  earthwork 
embankment  known  as  the  "  Gossain  Kamla  Ali,"  though  the 
writer  has  been  unable  to  find  any  trace  of  their  separate 
existence  in  this  (Darrang)  district. 

13.  Mdmshdroi.  IMmshd  folk.  Rdmshd  is  said  to  be  the  name 
of  a  Mauza  in  Kamrup.3     It  may  be  noted  further  that  Ram-sa 
(?  Ram's  people)  is  the  name  by  which  the  Kacharis  living  in  the 
plains  are  known  to  their  brethren  in  the  North  Cachar  Hills. 

14.  Brahm-droi.     Brahma  folk.     Said  to  be  a  quasi-priestly 
class,   found   chiefly   in   Upper   Assam.     This  name,  like  the 
preceding,  is  obviously  of  Hindu  origin. 

15.  Sdnhbdrd-roi.*    Bamboo-grove-folk,    (fidnhbdri  =  Assam- 
ese) is  the  sacred  bamboo  grove,  found  near  many  Kachari 
villages,  where  the  worship  of  the  gods  is  carried  on  at  certain 

16.  Dhekidbdri-droi.      (Dhekia    fern),   the    fern-folk.      The 
totem  of  this  sub-tribe  was  probably  the  fern,  still  sometimes 
used  in  the  preparation  of  the  fatikd  spirit. 

1  In    the    Dhubri  subdivision    there    is    a    place    called    "  Ding-dinga.' 
Perhaps  this  takes  its  name  from  the  sept. — [Ed.] 

2  Cf.  Assamese,  gud,  betel,  to  which  Gua-hati,  the  capital  of  Assam,  is  said 
to  owe  its  name. 

3  Ramsha  is  one  of  the  old  Mauzas  of  Kamrup.     It  is  situated  close  to 
Gauhati.— [Ed.] 

4  Sanskrit,  vamsa,  bamboo  ;  vdms-vdri  is  the  Assamese  word  for  a  bamboo 
grove. — [Ed.] 

in  LAWS   AND   CUSTOMS  27 

17.  Mddmard-roi.     The  Ma6-fish  folk,  perhaps  originally  the 
dwellers  near  the  Moamari  bil.1 

18.  Kherkhathd-roi  (Kerketud?  squirrel).    The  squirrel-folk. 
Said  to  be  a  low  caste  and  more  or  less  criminal.     One  of  their 
functions  is  to  cut  the  horns  of  cattle. 

19.  Fadam-droi.    The  fadam  folk.     Thefadam  is  said  to  be 
identical  with  the  tree  known  as  sdchi  in  Assamese. 

20.  Mohild-roi.    Mohila  folk.     Mohila  is  a  word  of  uncertain 
origin  and  meaning.  It  is  said  to  be  the  equivalent  of  Mahaldar, 
and  to  be  applied  to  fishery   lessees,   and   petty   traders   in 
areca-nut  and  betel-leaves  and  dried  fish  (nd-grdn). 

It  may  perhaps  be  added  that  among  the  Meches  in  Gowal- 
para  some  sixteen  of  these  subdivisions  are  recognised,  all 
formerly  exogamous.3  In  designating  these  subdivisions  the 
same  suffix  (droi  or  roi}  is  used  as  that  characteristic  of 
the  Kamrup  and  Darrang  Kacharis :  indeed,  the  names  corre- 
spond closely  in  every  respect,  e.g. — 





which  seems  to  be  practically  identical  with  class-names  Nos.  1, 
3,  8  and  12,  given  above. 

But  it  is  among  the  Dimasa  of  the  North  Cachar  Hills  and 
the  Hojais  of  the  Nowgong  district  that  this  minute  sub- 
division of  the  clans  would  seem  to  attain  its  highest  develop- 
ment. In  this  portion  of  the  Bara  race  some  eighty  clans  are 
recognised,  of  whom  forty  are  known  as  men's  clans  (sengfdng} 
and  forty  as  women's  (zulu~).  All  the  members  of  these 
different  clans  eat  and  drink  together  freely,  and  are,  or  were, 
all  strictly  exogamous.4  The  only  exception  to  this  strict  rule 

1  The  Moamari  or  Maomdri  bil  is  said   to  have  given  its   name  to  the 
Moamaria  faction  which  gave  so  much  trouble  in  the  time  of  the  Assamese 
king  Gaurinath  Singha.— [Ed.] 

2  In  adopting  a  word  from  the  language    of    their    Hindu    neighbours 
(Assamese),    the   Kacharis  often  use  an  aspirated  letter  where  none  exists 
in  the  original. — S.  E. 

3  It  is  certainly  strange  that  amongst  the  Meches,  who  are  kinsmen  of  the 
Kacharis,  the  sub-tribes  are  exogamous,  whereas  the  Kachari  sub-tribes  are 
said  by  the  author  to  have  been  originally  endogamous. — [Ed.] 

4  Of.  the  case  of  the  Mech  sub-tribes. 


of  exogamy  is  that  of  the  so-called  royal  clan,  known  as 
Ha-chum-sa,1  i.e.,  "black  earth  folk,"  all  the  members  of  which 
were  compelled  to  marry  within  their  own  sub-tribe,  marriage 
with  a  member  of  a  subject  clan  being  of  old  absolutely 
forbidden.  (Cf.  the  analogous  restrictions  enforced  by  various 
"  Royal  Marriage  "  Acts  in  other  communities.) 

In  partial  explanation  of  the  terms  used  (their  number  might 
probably  be  largely  added  to  on  further  inquiry),  it  will  be 
observed  that  the  first  two  are  obviously  of  Hindu  origin,  the 
Kachari  affix  droi  (people,  folk)  being  attached  to  the 
Sanskrit  words  Swarga  and  Vasumati  respectively.  Most  of 
the  designations  applied  to  the  other  sub-tribes  merely  indicate 
the  occupation,  probably  hereditary,  by  which  the  members  of 
these  sub-tribes  obtained  their  livelihood.  But  in  almost  every 
case,  in  these  modern  days,  any  special  reverence  for  the  totem 
has  very  largely  become  a  thing  of  the  past.  There  is,  perhaps, 
one  exception  to  this  rule,  that  of  the  tiger-folk  (Mosdroi  or 
JBaghldroi).  (The  I  in  this  latter  word  is  probably  merely 
euphonic,  so  that  the  two  words  have  exactly  the  same 
meaning).  Kacharis  of  the  old-fashioned  conservative  school 
still  think  it  a  duty  to  show  respect  to  their  totem  (the  tiger) 
by  formally  going  into  mourning  whenever  they  learn  that  one 
of  these  animals  has  died  in  the  immediate  vicinity  of  their 
village.  The  period  of  mourning  is  indeed  but  a  short  one, 
seldom  exceeding  twenty-four  hours ;  but  during  this  brief 
period  the  sorrowing  would  seem  to  be  very  real,  and  not  a 
little  material  loss  is  sometimes  involved.  No  solid  food 
whatever  must  be  taken,  in  itself  no  slight  privation  to  the 
Kachari,  who  is  as  a  rule  provided  with  an  ample  appetite.  At 
the  end  of  the  mourning  the  floor  and  walls  of  each  house 
must  be  carefully  smeared  with  a  freshly  prepared  compost  of 
mud  and  cow-dung,  a  work  usually  carried  out  by  the  women. 
All  articles  of  clothing,  as  well  as  all  household  utensils  made  of 
brass,  must  be  thoroughly  cleansed  in  running  water,  whilst  all 
earthenware  vessels  except  those  which  are  quite  new  and  have 
never  yet  been  used  for  cooking  purposes,  must  be  broken  up 
and  thrown  away.  Then  one  of  the  elder  members  of  the 

1  Ha,   earth  ;    chum  (-ga-chum),  black   (cf.   Dima  ga-chum,  black-water) ; 
sa,  folk,  people. 

ill  LAWS   AND   CUSTOMS  29 

community,  acting  as  Deori  (minister),  solemnly  distributes  the 
"  water  of  peace  "  (Sdnti-JaT) l  to  be  drunk  by  all  in  turn  ;  and 
the  buildings  themselves  and  all  articles  of  clothing,  &c.,  are 
freely  sprinkled  with  this  preparation.  The  service  is  finally 
consummated  by  the  sacrifice  of  a  fowl  or  pig,  to  be  partaken  of 
by  all  in  common ;  after  which  relations  of  ordinary  social 
intercourse  with  the  neighbours  may  be  quietly  resumed. 


It  is  said  that  each  of  the  sub-tribes  mentioned  above  was 
in  early  times  strictly  endogamous ;  for  though  members  of  all 
these  subdivisions  might  freely  eat  and  drink  together,  inter- 
marriage between  them  was  absolutely  forbidden.  But  all  such 
restrictions  on  marriage  seem  to  have  passed  away  long  since, 
so  that  the  whole  subject  has  nowadays  little  more  than  an 
antiquarian  interest. 

No  formal  hypergamy  is  recognised,  though  Kacharis 
occasionally  take  wives  from  the  cognate  tribes  known  as 
Rabhas  (Totlds),  Koches  (Madahis),  and  Saraniyas,  &c.  But 
such  alliances  -are  as  a  rule  not  looked  upon  with  favour,  and 
the  bridegroom  in  such  cases  has  generally  to  make  his  peace 
with  his  fellow-villagers  by  providing  them  with  a  feast  in 
which  rice-beer  (Zu)  and  pork  are  certain  to  take  a  prominent 
place.  Children  born  of  such  mixed  marriages  become  in  all 
cases  members  of  the  father's  subdivision  of  the  Bodo  race. 

There  is  little  or  nothing  specially  distinctive  in  the  laws  of 
consanguinity  or  affinity  in  their  bearing  on  the  marriage 
relationship.  A  widower  may  marry  his  deceased  wife's  younger 
sister,  but  not  the  elder,  whom  he  is  taught  to  regard  con- 
ventionally in  the  light  of  a  mother.  Much  the  same  principle 
holds  good  in  the  case  of  the  re-marriage  of  widows,  which  is 
freely  permitted,  the  one  limitation  being  that  a  widow  may 
marry  her  deceased  husband's  younger  brother,  but  not  the 

1  "Santi-Jal,"  water  of  peace  (reconciliation),  usually  prepared  by 
immersing  in  water  leaves  of  the  Tulsi  plant,  Dub  grass,  cow-dung,  rice,  &c. 
Money  is  sometimes  added  in  the  form  of  small  silver  coins  (four-anna  bits) 
or  even  rupees  ;  and  rings,  or  other  personal  ornaments,  are  sometimes  thrown 
into  this  "  SAnti-Jal." 



As  a  rule  the  Kacharis  are  a  strictly  monogamous  race, 
though  cases  of  men  having  two  wives  have  occasionally  come 
under  the  writer's  notice.  These  cases  are,  however,  almost 
invariably  limited  to  men  of  a  somewhat  high  social  position 
or  great  wealth,  such  as  Mauzadars,  Mandals,  &c.  Where,  too, 
a  first  wife  proves  childless,  Kachari  custom  sanctions  the 
taking  of  a  second,  mainly  with  a  view  to  handing  down  the 
father's  name  to  posterity.  On  the  other  hand,  polyandry 
would  seem  to  be  absolutely  prohibited,  though  it  is  known  to 
prevail  in  the  adjoining  regions  of  Bhutan,  Tibet,  &c. 


Children,  more  especially  orphans,  are  occasionally  adopted, 
usually  by  near  relatives,  but  sometimes  by  absolute  strangers. 
In  such  cases  the  children  so  adopted  are  treated  as  full 
members  of  the  family,  and  the  foster-parents  are  considered 
by  the  community  to  have  done  a  highly  meritorious  act. 
Several  pleasing  instances  of  adoption  of  this  character  have 
come  under  the  writer's  notice,  and  in  all  such  cases  the 
adopted  children  seem  to  have  found  a  very  happy  home. 


As  stated  above,  the  standard  of  chastity  among  the 
Kacharis,  both  men  and  women,  is  by  no  means  a  low  one.  As 
a  rule  the  young  people,  in  the  villages  at  least,  lead  pure  lives 
before  marriage,  and  are  faithful  to  their  marriage  vows  in  after- 
life. In  cases  where  there  are  several  unmarried  girls  in  a  family, 
and  one  of  them  is  suspected  of  having  broken  the  law  of 
chastity,  the  following  plan  for  detecting  the  offender  is  some- 
times adopted.  The  whole  family  gathers  in  the  evening  around 
the  sacred  siju  tree  (Euphorbia  splendens),  which  is  often  to  be 
seen  growing  in  the  court-yard,  surrounded  by  a  fence  of  split 
bamboo.  At  the  foot  of  this  revered  tree  a  quantity  of  rice 
(uncooked)  is  solemnly  buried  and  allowed  to  remain  there  over 
night.  Early  next  morning  this  rice  is  carefully  disinterred, 
and  a  certain  quantity  given  to  each  grown-up  girl  (sikhlA}  to 
be  masticated.  The  offender,  under  the  pressure  of  the  fear  of 


From  a  Photograph  by  Rtrs.   //.  A.  Colijuhoun. 

in  LAWS   AND  CUSTOMS  31 

imminent  detection,  is  unable  to  masticate  her  portion  of  rice,  the 
faculty  of  secreting  saliva  failing  her  in  her  terror  of  discovery 
and  disgrace. 

She  is  then  made  to  disclose  the  name  of  her  paramour, 
whom  Kachari  public  opinion  compels  to  marry  his  victim 
forthwith,  the  bride-price  (pan :  see  below)  being  in  this  case 
considerably  enhanced  as  some  slight  compensation  to  the  girl's 
parents  for  the  injury  done  to  the  honour  of  the  family.  A 
similar  procedure  is  sometimes  resorted  to  in  cases  of  suspected 
theft  or  other  like  misdemeanours  in  the  family  circle. 

In  some  cases  where  the  parents  are  unwilling  to  part  with 
their  daughter  to  a  prospective  son-in-law  of  somewhat 
objectionable  character,  the  matter  is  referred  for  decision  to  the 
village  elders,  who  impose  a  fine  of  Rs.  20/-  to  Rs.  25/-  on 
the  offender.  But  whenever  pregnancy  follows  offences  against 
the  law  of  chastity,  marriage  becomes  absolutely  compulsory, 
and  the  seducer  is  made  to  feel  that  he  has  brought  disgrace 
upon  the  village,  and  is  distinctly  under  a  cloud.  In  this  way 
a  wholesome  respect  for  chastity  is  maintained,  and  Kachdri 
domestic  life  is  kept  comparatively  pure. 


Divorce  sometimes  takes  place  by  mutual  consent,  but  cannot 
be  effected  without  a  certain  formality.  Man  and  wife  appear 
before  the  village  elders  and  state  their  case,  concluding  by 
tearing  a  pan-leaf  into  two  pieces,  fdthoi  fesinai,  (K.)  pan  chird 
(Assamese),  a  symbolic  act  indicating  that,  as  the  sundered  leaf 
can  never  reunite,  so  their  own  married  life  is  severed  for  ever. 
Should  the  husband  divorce  his  wife  for  causes  which  seem  to- 
the  village  elders  inadequate  or  capricious,  he  forfeits  all  claim 
to  reimbursement  of  his  marriage  expenses,  and  even  when  the 
divorce  is  approved  of,  he  must  pay  a  certain  small  sum  (Rs.  5/- 
to  10/-)  for  his  freedom,  the  amount  being  divided  between  the 
village  panchdyat  and  the  divorced  woman.  On  the  other 
hand,  if  the  woman  is  divorced  for  just  and  sufficient  reasons, 
e.g.,  for  unfaithfulness  to  her  marriage  obligations,  the  injured 
husband  is  entitled  to  recover  whatever  he  may  have  expended 
at  his  marriage,  a  sum  amounting  sometimes  to  Rs.  140/-  or 
upwards  to  Rs.  200/-.  The  man  who  may  afterwards  marry  the 


divorced  woman  is  held  to  be  responsible  for  the  payment  of 
this  money;  and  so  long  as  this  latter  condition  is  duly  fulfilled, 
the  divorcee  is  fully  at  liberty  to  live  with  a  second  husband. 


Among  the  Kachdris  the  laws  and  customs  relating  to  the 
inheritance  of  property  seem  to  be  very  vague,  and  it  is  not  at 
all  easy  to  obtain  any  definite  information  on  the  subject. 
Generally  speaking,  on  the  decease  of  the  head  of  the  house- 
hold the  eldest  son  takes  charge  of  all  property,  making  a 
home  for  the  time  for  his  widowed  mother  and  his  brothers  and 
sisters.  In  this  way  the  family  may  be  kept  together  for  some 
years ;  but  eventually  it  breaks  up  as  the  children  grow  up  and 
marry,  in  which  case  the  father's  property  is  broken  up  into 
equal  shares,  the  eldest  son  taking  one  share  and  a  half,  while 
what  remains  is  divided  fairly  among  the  other  brothers.  The 
daughters,  especially  if  married,  can  claim  nothing.  When  a 
man  dies  without  sons,  the  property  usually  passes  to  his  eldest 
surviving  brother,  who  generally  makes  some  provision  for  the 
deceased  man's  widow  and  daughters. 

Disputes,  whether  matrimonial  or  otherwise  (e.g.,  inheritance 
of  property,  &c.),  are  almost  invariably  referred  to  the  council 
•of  village  elders,  whose  members  are  not  necessarily  limited  to 
five  or  other  definite  number;  and  the  decision  of  this  rural 
•council  is  very  rarely  questioned  or  opposed  in  any  way.  It 
might  be  well  to  develop  and  enlarge  this  simple  and  very 
effective  way  of  settling  disputes,  so  that  the  villagers  may  be  to 
a  great  extent  saved  from  the  necessity  of  coming  under  the 
•contaminating,  demoralising  influence  of  our  civil  and  criminal 
courts.  As  all  the  Kacharis  of  this  district  (Darrang)  are 
ordinary  cultivators,  holding  land  directly  under  Government 
like  their  Hindu  and  Musulman  neighbours,  no  remarks  are 
needed  under  the  head  of  "  tenure  of  land,  and  laws  regarding 
land."  So  too  with  the  sections  dealing  with  "  war,  and  head- 
hunting," it  is  only  necessary  to  say  that  the  latter  practice 
(head-hunting)  is  quite  unknown  here,  though  it  would  seem 
to  have  been  very  common  in  earlier  days  among  the  closely 
cognate  race  known  to  us  as  Garos. 


THE  religion  of  the  Kachari  race  is  distinctly  of  the  type  General 
commonly  known  as  "  animistic,"  and  its  underlying  principle  is  £f  ^pu 
characteristically  one  of  fear  or  dread.  The  statement  "  Timor  beliefs. 
fecit  deos  "  certainly  holds  good  of  this  people  in  its  widest  and 
strictest  sense  ;  and  their  religion  thus  stands  in  very  marked, 
not  to  say  violent,  contrast1  with  the  teaching  of  the  Faith  in 
Christ.  In  the  typical  Kachari  village  as  a  rule  neither 
idol  nor  place  of  worship  is  to  be  found ;  but  to  the  Kachari 
mind  and  imagination  earth,  air,  and  sky  are  alike  peopled 
with  a  vast  number  of  invisible  spiritual  beings,  known 
usually  as  "  Modai,"  all  possessing  powers  and  faculties  far 
greater  than  those  of  man,  and  almost  invariably  inclined  to 
use  these  powers  for  malignant  and  malevolent,  rather  than 
benevolent,  purposes.  In  a  certain  stage  of  moral  and  spiritual 
development  men  are  undoubtedly  influenced  far  more  by  what 
they  fear  than  by  what  they  love ;  and  this  truth  certainly 
applies  to  the  Kachari  race  in  the  most  unqualified  way.  The 
Kachari  Duars  of  this  district  (Darrang)  were  in  earlier  days 
looked  upon  as  being  especially  unhealthy,  and  to  some  extent 
they  retain  that  character  still.  It  has  repeatedly  fallen  to  the 
lot  of  the  writer,  when  entering  a  Kachari  village  to  find  one 
or  more  of  its  inhabitants  prostrate  with  malarial  fever  of  a 
virulent  type ;  and  on  asking  what  was  wrong  the  reply  has  very 
commonly  been  "  modai*  hdmdang"  i.e.,  an  (evil)  spirit  has  got 

1  See  S.  Matt.  xxii.  37,   or  (what  was  written   many  centuries  earlier) 
Deut.  vi.  5,  "Thou  shalt  love  the  Lord  thy  God  with  all  thy  heart." 

2  Modai  (Assamese  :  deota,  devta),  a  god,  spirit,  &c.     Ham-na  (Hindustani 
pakar  or  Assamese  dharna) :  to  catch,  lay  hold  of,  &c.     Hence  "Modai  ham- 
dang,  an  (evil)  spirit  has  seized  (me),"  "  got  hold  (of  me)." 

33  D 


hold  (of  me).  And  this  reply  may  be  looked  upon  as  typical 
and  characteristic,  and  as  accurately  expressing  the  very  spirit 
and  true  inwardness  of  Kachari  religion.  Of  sin,  i.e.,  the 
conscious  violation  of  the  moral  Law  of  a  righteous  God, 
the  Kachari  has  of  course  no  idea  whatever.  But  he  does 
believe  in  the  existence  and  active  interference  in  the  affairs  of 
men  of  certain  invisible  spiritual  beings  who  are  the  authors 
of  sickness,  famine,  earthquakes,  &c.  ;  who  are  for  the  most 
part  influenced  by  malevolent  motives,  and  whose  ill-will 
towards  mankind  must  be  propitiated  and  bought  off  by 
frequent  offerings  of  rice,  plantains,  pigs,  goats,  poultry,  &c., 
in  ways  regarding  which  some  little  information  is  given  below. 
Worship  1.  Ancestor- worship  would  not  seem  to  be  in  vogue  to  any 
tors!™  S  extent  among  the  Kacharis  of  this  district,  though  perhaps  it 
is  not  altogether  unknown ;  e.g.,  when  the  head  of  a  family  or 
other  man  of  note  passes  away,  it  is  not  unusual  at  certain 
festivals  to  place  on  a  platform  a  small  quantity  of  the  viands 
of  which  the  deceased  was  known  to  be  fond  during  his  lifetime 
on  earth,  presumably  for  his  use  and  behoof.  No  adult 
members  of  the  village  community  will  ever  presume  to  touch 
these  viands,  though  the  village  children  are  apparently  at 
liberty  to  consume  them  at  their  pleasure. 

Worship  2.  The  worship  of  natural  forces  also  would  seem  to  be  not 
forces"™  at  all  common,  though  some  traces  of  it  may  perhaps  be  noted 
here  and  there.  For  instance,  (A)  in  connection  with  the 
popular  festival  known  as  the  April  (Vaisakh)  Bihu,  there  takes 
place  what  is  called  the  "  Parwa  "  show  or  bhotheli,  a  festival 
apparently  common  to  Hindu  and  Kachari  alike.  The  parwa 
is  a  tall  bamboo  pole  draped  with  rags,  flags,  &c.,  taken  from 
the  village  on  the  last  day  of  the  Bihu,  and  put  up  in  a  field 
alongside  a  tree,  where  the  people  amuse  themselves  by  dancing, 
wrestling,  and  tom-toming,  &c.,  around  it.  It  is  possible  that 
this  may  be  a  relic  or  survival  of  phallic  worship,  the  parwa 
taking  the  place  of  the  lingam  or  phallus.  (B)  Again,  water 
would  seem  to  have  about  it  something  of  a  sacred  character 
in  the  mind  of  the  average  Kachari.  The  dead  are  often  buried 
or  cremated  on  or  near  the  banks  of  running  streams,  which 
are  also  favourite  localities  for  the  celebration  of  the  greater 
pujas.  This  reverence  for  water  is  perhaps  specially  marked 

iv  RELIGION  35 

among  the  Kacharis  of  North-east  Bengal  (Jalpaiguri,  &c.),  in 
which  part  of  the  Province,  Mr.  Bryan  Hodgson  informs  us,  all 
the  smaller  streams  are  regarded  as  a  kind  of  lesser  deities  (dii 
inferiores),  whilst  the  Brahmaputra  is  looked  upon  as  the  mother 
of  them  all  (mater  magna).  It  may  be  noted  also  in  this 
connection  that  one  of  the  principal  branches  of  the  widely 
spread  Bara  race,  i.e.,  the  people  of  the  North  Cachar  Hills, 
still  speak  of  themselves  as  Di-md-sd,  i.e.,  "  sons  of  the  big 
river,"  or  "  children  of  the  great  water,"  even  though  none  of 
them  would  seem  now  to  dwell  anywhere  near  a  large  river  or 
lake,  &c.  It  may  therefore  perhaps  be  safely  inferred  that  the 
element  of  water,  though  now  apparently  not  often  actually 
worshipped,  has  ever  been  held  in  special  regard  by  the  Kachari 

The  Kachari  Pantheon  is  a  very  extensive  one,  though  it  Worship 
seerns  probable  that  only  a  comparatively  small  number  are  of  deities- 
strictly  of  tribal  or  national  origin,  many  having  obviously 
been  borrowed  from  their  Hindu  neighbours.  The  popular 
Kachari  deities  fall  naturally  into  two  classes,  i.e.,  (1)  house- 
hold gods  (nti-ni  maddi);  (2)  village  gods  (gdmi-ni  maddi).1 
The  former  are  worshipped  inside  the  house,  or  at  least  in  the 
homestead  (compound) ;  the  latter  by  the  whole  village 
collectively,  outside  the  house,  and  usually  near  the  sacred 
grove  of  trees  or  bamboos,  often  to  be  seen  some  fifteen  or 
twenty  yards  from  the  village,  and  known  as  the  thansali. 
A  long  list  of  these  gods  is  given  in  an  interesting  paper  by 
Maulvi  Mahibuddin  Ahmed,  some  nineteen  names  of  household 
gods  being  therein  enumerated,  whilst  the  village  gods  number 
no  fewer  than  sixty-five.  Only  a  small  proportion  of  these  deities 
would,  however,  seem  to  obtain  recognition  in  this  district 
(Darrang),  and  it  hardly  seems  necessary  to  mention  by  name 
more  than  a  few  of  them. 

A.     Household  Deities. 

Among  the  household  deities  may  be  placed  the  following : — 
1.  Bathau  brai,  old  Bathau. 

1  JYa,  house  (ghar).     Gdmi,  village  (gdon). 

D   2 


2.  Mainao,  otherwise  known  as  Bhulli  Buri,  and  looked  upon 
as  Bathau's  wife. 

3.  ASM  Mainao. 

4.  Sali  Mainao. 

5.  Song  Raja. 

6.  Song  Brai. 

7.  Bura  Bagh  Raja,  &c.,  &c.,  &c. 

1.  Bathau  (Siju,  i.e.,  Euphorbia  splendens). 

Of  these  household  gods  by  far  the  most  important  is  the 
first-mentioned,  i.e.,  Bathau,  who  is  pre-eminently  the  guardian 
of  the  family  interests  and  family  honour.  He  is  never  repre- 
sented in  idol  form,  but  is  well  in  evidence  through  his  living 
symbol,  the  siju  (hiju)  tree  (Euphorbia  splendens},  which  is 
often  to  be  seen  in  the  Kachari  homestead  surrounded  by  a 
circular  fence  of  split  bamboo.  Among  the  Meches  of 
Goalpara,  almost  every  home,  it  is  said,  has  its  B&thdu  (siju), 
though  in  Darrang  it  is  less  frequently  met  with.  Bathau 
is  said  not  to  be  worshipped  separately,  but  always  in  con- 
junction with  Ai-Deo.  Inside  the  house  a  slightly  raised  altar, 
called  dhdm,  is  often  erected  in  honour  of  Song  Raja,  and  at 
this  women  especially  pay  their  devotions  and  make  offerings, 
particularly  at  the  monthly  periods  (menses).  All  offerings, 
however,  made  to  Song  Raja  are  finally  brought  outside  the 
house,  and  laid  at  the  foot  of  Bathau  ;  and  the  writer  has  often 
seen  such  offerings  in  the  form  of  heads  of  goats,  pigs,  fowls,  &c., 
as  well  as  plantains,  tdmul-n\its,  ^w-leaves,  gazi  (i.e.,  a  mixture 
of  rice  and  pulse),  &c.,  humbly  laid  down  for  Bathau's 
acceptance.  In  this  way  it  is  held  that  disease,  famine,  and 
misfortunes  of  all  kinds  may  be  kept  at  bay,  through  the 
influence  of  this  powerful  guardian  of  the  family  interest  and 

It  may  be  added  that  it  is  apparently  only  among  the 
northern  section  of  the  Kachari  race  that  the  siju  tree  is 
regarded  with  special  reverence.  The  Garos  are  said  to  know 
this  tree  and  to  use  certain  parts  of  it  for  medical  purposes 
e.g.,  the  preparation  of  poultices,  &c. ;  but  to  them  it  is  never 
an  object  of  worship.  The  Dimasa  of  the  North  Cachar  Hills, 

Sijr  TRKK  {Euphorbia  splfndsns}. 
h'rom  a  r holograph  by  Mrs.   H.  A.  Colijitlunin. 

iv  RELIGION  37 

on  the  other  hand,  seem  to  have  no  special  regard  for  the  siju 
or  any  other  tree. 

2.  Mainao  (Ceres). 

Only  second  to  Bathau  is  his  good  consort,  Mainao,  though, 
unlike  her  husband,  she  has  no  special  emblem  visible  to  the 
human  eye.  Her  special  function  is  that  of  "  Guardian  of  the 
rice-fields  "  ; l  and  among  a  purely  agricultural  community  like 
that  of  the  Kacharis,  she  of  course  is  held  in  very  high  regard. 
She  is,  in  short,  to  the  Kachari  peasant  very  much  what  Ceres 
was  to  the  old  heathen  Roman  cultivator.  Eggs  are  the  offer- 
ing that  finds  most  favour  in  her  eyes,  and  these  are  presented 
to  her  in  unstinted  quantity.  She  is  apparently  especially 
worshipped  at  the  period  of  harvesting  the  dsu  and  Sdli  crops  ; 
hence  the  twofold  designation  given  above  (Nos.  3  and  4,  house- 
hold gods),  Asu  Mainao,  and  Sali  Mainao. 

Of  the  other  domestic  deities  above  mentioned,  it  is  not 
necessary  to  say  much.  Nos.  5  and  6  (Song  Raja  and  Song 
Brai)  seem  to  be  the  especial  objects  of  devotion  to  women, 
worshipped  for  the  most  part  inside  the  house,  whilst  No.  7 
(Bura  Bagh  Raja)  is  apparently  merely  the  name  of  the  tiger, 
often  spoken  of  with  bated  breath  as  the  "  monarch  of  the 
woods  "  (lanar-r&ja),  especially  by  men  travelling  at  night,  when 
danger  from  the  tiger  may  well  be  apprehended. 

B.    Village  Deities. 

There  would  seem  to  be  little  need  to  dwell  much  on  the 
village  deities  ;  for  no  small  proportion  of  them  have  evidently 
been  adopted  from  the  Hindu  Pantheon,  as  will  be  obvious 
from  the  names  given  below.  Some  sixty-five  such  names 
are  given  in  the  valuable  paper  above  mentioned  of  village 
deities  recognised  in  Kamrup,  though  the  writer  only  knows 
of  some  three  or  four  of  these  gods  as  reverenced  in  this 

1  It  is  probable  that  her  great  function,  i.e.,  guardianship  of  the  paddy 
field,  is  indicated  by  her  name  ;  for  mai  =  paddy  (Assamese  dhdn)  ;  and  na 
(nao)  =  to  watch  over,  keep  (Assamese  rakha)  ;  hence  mai-ndo  = "  the 
protector  of  the  rice-fields." 


district  (Darrang).     Among  these  may  perhaps  be  mentioned 
the  following : — 

1.  Mero  raja. 

2.  Bura  Mahadeo. 

3.  Bura  gosain. 

4.  Jal  Kube>. 

5.  Thai  Kuber. 

6.  Ih  Kuber. 

7.  Bih  Kube"r. 

8.  Kuber  brai  (masculine). 

9.  Kuber  brui  (feminine). 
10.  Sila  Rai,  &c.,  &c.,  &c.,  &c. 

It  is  needless  to  continue  the  list,  for  almost  all  the  names 
are  obviously  borrowed  from  popular  Hinduism ;  e.g.,  Kuber  is 
almost  certainly  the  Hindu  god  of  wealth  and  of  the  lower 
regions  (Pluto).  Others  are  in  all  likelihood  merely  names  of 
deified  mortals  of  some  pre-eminence  above  their  fellow  men ; 
cf.  Ram,  Krishna,  &c.  A  notable  illustration  of  this  principle 
of  deification  is  probably  that  given  as  No.  10  in  the  above  list, 
i.e.,  Sila  Rai.1  This  is  almost  certainly  the  name  of  the  well- 
known  Commander-in-Chief  of  the  most  famous  of  the  Koch 
Kings,  Nar  Narayan,  in  whose  time  the  Koch  kingdom  reached 
the  zenith  of  its  power.  As  a  soldier  and  commander  this 
man  (Sila  Rai)  seems  to  have  been  the  foremost  captain  of  his 
time  in  North-east  India ;  and  his  striking  personality  would 
seem  so  to  have  impressed  the  minds  and  imaginations  of  his 
contemporaries  as  to  lead  to  his  apotheosis  after  death. 

As  might  be  expected  among  a  purely  agricultural  com- 
munity, the  great  annual  puj'as,  which  are  three  in  number, 
are  directly  connected  with  the  ingathering  of  the  three  chief 
rice  crops  of  the  year,  i.e.,  the  Ahu,  Pharma,  and  Sali  crops 
The  dates  for  these  annual  pujas  do  not  seem  to  be  at  all 
rigidly  fixed,  but  are  apparently  settled  by  the  village  elders  to 
meet  the  public  convenience.  There  is  no  prescribed  form  of 
religious  worship  ;  indeed,  the  whole  gathering  is  rather  of  the 
nature  of  a  village  merry-making  than  a  religious  service ;  and 
there  is  invariably  a  very  large  consumption  of  the  national 
beverage  (rice-beer)  at  all  these  gatherings. 

1  See  "  The  Koch  Kings  of  Kamrup,"  by  E.  A.  Gait,  Esq.,  I.C.S. 

iv  RELIGION  39 

There  is  said  to  be  another  puja  known  as  morong-pujd,  of 
which  the  special  object  is  to  propitiate  the  cholera  demon,  to 
whom  are  made  offerings  of  he-goats,  pigeons,  fowls  and  betel- 
nuts,  &c.  In  addition  to  these,  flowers,  eggs,  pounded  rice- 
flour,  &c.,  are  sometimes  placed  on  rafts  and  set  afloat  on  a 
river  ;  and  occasionally  animals  (goats,  &c.)  are  exposed  in  this 
way  on  rafts  as  an  oblation  to  the  river  god  (dbi-ni  madai).1  It 
may  be  taken  for  granted  that,  whenever  these  rafts  are  found 
on  streams  in  the  Kachari  country,  cholera  or  other  malignant 
disease  is  or  has  been  doing  its  deadly  work  among  the  people. 
In  addition  to  the  puj'as  above  mentioned,  which  are  more  or 
less  of  a  general  character,  offerings  of  goats,  chickens,  and  a 
mixture  of  pulse  and  rice  known  as  gazi,  are  often  placed  at  the 
foot  of  certain  trees,  usually  old  trees,  and  finally  left  there. 
As  a  rule,  only  the  heads  of  the  goats,  chicken,  &c.,  so  offered 
will  be  found  at  the  foot  of  such  trees,  the  bodies  of  the 
slaughtered  animals  being  consumed  by  the  offerers.  These 
oblations  are  made,  not  by  the  village  community  as  a  whole, 
but  by  the  heads  of  individual  families,  some  one  member  of 
which  is  in  severe  trouble  from  sickness  or  other  like  cause. 
The  money  value  of  such  offerings  is  sometimes  not  incon- 


There  is  no  authorised  priestly  caste  among  the  Kacharis, 
nor  are  Brahmins  ever  employed  in  their  religious  ceremonies, 
these  latter  indeed  being  generally  of  a  social,  and  even  festive, 
rather  than  a  religious  character.  In  Kamrup,  however,  one  of 
the  recognised  sub-tribes  is,  or  was,  known  as  "  Brahmaroi,"  a 
name  which  seems  to  point  to  Brahmins  as  having  a  certain 
standing  in  the  Bada  community.  All  religious  offices  are  now 
discharged  by  Deoris  or  Deoddis,  who  are  usually  men  of  a 
certain  age  and  recognised  social  position  in  the  village 
community  ;  village  elders  in  fact.  The  office  is  not  hereditary, 
and  any  one  versed  in  the  usual  forms  of  exorcism,  &c.,  can 
discharge  it.  Another  class  of  persons  employed  in  religious 

1  I  have  seen  such  a  puja  on  the   Manas  river.      The  principal  offering 
to  the  river  god  was  a  duck. 


ceremonies  is  known  as  the  Ojhd  or  Ojhd-Burd,  who  is  generally 
armed  with  shells,  cowries,  &c.,  by  the  manipulation  of  which 
he  professes  to  be  able  to  foretell  prosperity  or  the  reverse  to 
those  who  consult  him.  These  officials  are  supposed  to  be 
competent  to  deal  with  the  ordinary  ailments  of  village  life  by 
indicating  the  approximate  method  of  propitiating  the  offended 
deity  (modai),  whose  anger  is  held  to  be  the  cause  of  all  the  ills 
that  flesh  is  heir  to. 

But  in  times  of  special  emergency,  e.g.,  plague,  pestilence, 
famine,  &c.,  the  services  of  the  "  possessed "  woman,1  the 
Deoddni,  are  called  into  action  for  a  special  puja  organised 
on  a  somewhat  large  scale.  These  gatherings  are  not  very 
common,  but  when  they  do  occur  the  order  of  the  proceedings 
is  something  as  follows,  as  occasionally  witnessed  by  the  writer. 
A  piece  of  ground  about  fifteen  or  twenty  yards  square,  usually 
on  the  bank  of  a  running  stream,  is  selected  for  the  purpose. 
The  surface  of  the  soil  is  carefully  removed,  and  a  rude  screen 
of  cotton  cloth  some  six  or  eight  feet  high  erected  on  bamboos 
at  the  western  side  of  the  cleared  ground.  At  the  eastern 
side  a  slight  earthwork  embankment,  some  three  or  four  inches 
high  and  about  a  foot  broad  is  thrown  up ;  and  on  this  a 
number  of  figures,  usually  seven  or  nine,  but  always  an  odd 
number,  bearing  a  rude  resemblance  to  the  outlines  of  the 
human  form,  are  placed  in  an  upright  position.  These  figures 
are  roughly  made  of  jungle  grass  twisted  together,  and  are 
about  one  foot  in  height.  Before  each  figure  is  placed  a  layer 
of  the  plantain  tree  with  its  concave  side  upwards,  and  in  this 
are  deposited  the  heads  of  slaughtered  goats,  pigeons,  chickens, 
with  salt,  sugar-cane,  plantains,  gazi  (a  mixture  of  rice  and 
pulse),  &c.,  the  whole  being  freely  sprinkled  with  blood  and 
pounded  rice  flour  (pithdguri).  The  Deoddni,  a  somewhat  weird- 
looking  figure,  with  dishevelled  hair,  and  vermilion-stained 
forehead,  wearing  a  long  petticoat,  dances  up  and  down  to  and 
fro  before  these  figures,  keeping  time  roughly  with  the  music 
of  cymbals  and  tom-toms  played  by  four  or  five  men,  who  act  as 
her  assistants.  The  ceremony  is  a  prolonged  one,  often  extend- 
ing over  many  hours :  and  the  Deoddni,  whose  faculties  are 
apparently  quite  absorbed  in  what  she  is  doing  and  who  seems 
1  Cf.  St.  Luke's  account  of  the  "  Pythonissa,"  Acts  xvi.  16-18 


for  the  time  to  be  lifted  above  the  world  of  time  and  sense, 
gradually  works  herself  up  to  a  state  of  excitement  bordering 
on  frenzy.  At  this  stage,  which  is  only  slowly  attained,  a 
goat  is  brought  forward  and  taken  up  before  one  of  the  figures 
above  mentioned,  when  the  Deoddni,  with  one  stroke  of  the 
long  sacrificial  sword,  known  as  the  imfi  and  reserved 
exclusively  for  such  purposes,  severs  the  victim's  head  from  the 
body.  Most  of  the  blood  is  held  to  be  offered  in  sacrifice  to  the 
maddi,  before  whose  emblem  the  animal  has  been  slaughtered  ; 
but  some  part  is  said  to  be  sprinkled  on  the  persons  of  the 
assembled  worshippers.  It  is  at  this  climax  of  the  puja,  i.e.,  at 
the  sacrificial  slaughtering  of  the  goat,  that  the  Deoddni  is 
supposed  to  become  possessed  of  the  knowledge  she  is  in  search 
of,  i.e.,  the  name  of  the  offended  deity  who  has  brought  about 
the  plague,  &c.,  and  also  the  best  method  of  propitiating  his 
anger  ;  which  usually  involves  an  offering  of  pigs,  goats,  &c.,  to 
the  angered  god,  and  the  giving  of  a  feast  to  the  whole  village 
community,  the  expense  being  defrayed  by  a  general  contribu- 

1.  Ceremonies  Attending  Birth. 

In  a  Kachari  village  community  there  would  seem  to  be  no 
formally  recognised  midwives  (dhdis),  any  respectable  and  com- 
petent matron  being  at  liberty  to  give  attendance  and  assistance 
to  the  patient  in  such  cases.  In  severing  the  umbilical  cord 
no  scissors,  knife,  or  other  implement  of  steel  is  ever  used,  nor 
is  the  severance  effected  at  one  stroke,  but  in  a  succession  of 
slight  cuts,  seven  such  cuts  being  made  in  the  case  of  a  girl,  and 
only  Jive  in  that  of  a  boy.  The  cutting  instruments  consist 
of  thin  hard  strips  of  bamboo,1  shaped  roughly  into  the  form 
of  a  knife ;  and  a  separate  bamboo  knife  must  be  used  in  making 
each  slight  cut,  seven  such  knives  being  thus  made  use  of  for  a 
female  child  and  five  for  a  male.  It  is  not  unusual  for  one  of 
the  bystanders  to  give  a  name  to  the  newly-born  child  at  the 
severing  of  the  umbilical  cord.  The  good  matron  who  officiates 
as  midwife  receives  no .  money  payment  for  her  services,  but  on 
the  mother  becoming  convalescent  a  feast  is  given  at  the 

1  Cf.  Khasi  birth  custom,  p.  124,  "The  Khasis."— [Ed.] 


parent's  expense,  in  which  pork  and  other  flesh  meat  is  always 
present  in  abundance ;  and  at  this  feast  the  officiating  midwife 
is  accorded  the  place  of  honour,  as  some  recognition  of  the 
value  of  her  kindly  ministrations  in  her  neighbour's  hour  of 
trial  and  need. 

For  about  a  month  or  six  weeks,  (the  period  seems  to  vary 
within  these  limits)  after  giving  birth  to  a  child,  the  mother 
is  held  to  be  technically  "  unclean,"  and  is  subjected  to  certain 
social  and  religious  limitations ;  e.g.,  she  may  not  approach  the 
dkdm  or  domestic  altar  commonly  found  inside  a  Kachari's 
dwelling-house,  and  on  which  she  is  ordinarily  in  the  habit 
of  making  offerings  of  eggs,  chickens,  &c.,  in  times  of  trouble. 
This  period  of  ceremonial  uncleanness  is  usually  terminated  by 
the  use  of  the  water  of  peace  (Mnti-jal).  The  deori  freely 
sprinkles  the  mother  as  well  as  the  house  and  its  contents  with 
this  holy  water,  after  which  she  is  fully  at  liberty  to  resume 
social  intercourse  with  her  neighbours.1 


There  does  not  seem  to  be  any  special  principle  underlying 
the  giving  of  names  to  children,  nor  do  such  names  as  a  rule 
resemble  those  of  their  fathers.  Like  some  of  the  lower  castes 
among  their  Hindu  neighbours,  children  often  take  the  name 
of  the  day  or  the  month  in  which  they  were  born.2  Hence  we 
often  find  such  names  as  Deobar,  Mangal,  Budhu,  as  also  Maghua} 
Phaguna  (names  of  months),  &c.,  in  use  among  the  Kacharis. 
Other  names  are  obviously  adopted  from  the  Hindus,  e.g.,  Ganga 
Ram,  Sati  Ram,  &c.  Others,  again,  were  probably  given  by  the 
mother  in  infancy  expressive  of  some  peculiarity  in  the  new-born 
child's  mental  or  physical  temperament.  Of  this  type,  probably,  is 
a  very  common  name,  "  Khangkhoa,"  i.e.,  the  "  voracious  one,"  the 
"  great  eater."  3  Another  illustration  is  the  name  Gab-gra,  i.e., 
the  weeper,  the  crier,  &c.,  &c.  In  short,  any  unusually 

1  Of.  the  Jewish  ceremonial  described  in  Leviticus,  xii. 

2  Cf.  the  well-known  instance  of  "man  Friday"  in  Robinson  Crusoe. 

3  It  will  be  remembered  that  the  Kacharis   are  sometimes  spoken  of  as 
"  Children  of  Bhim"  (Mahabharat),  who  is  said  on  one  occasion  to  have  eaten 
up  unaided  the  meal  provided  for  himself  and  his  four  brothers. 

iv  RELIGION  43 

prominent  physical  peculiarity  is  often  seized  upon  to  become 
the  name  by  which  the  child  is  known  throughout  his  whole 

3.  Marriage. 

From  certain  scattered  scraps  of  information  on  the  subject  A.  The 
that  have  incidentally  come  to  the  writer's  knowledge  during  the 
past  forty  years,  it  would  seem  that  marriage  ly  capture  was 
largely,  if  not  universally,  in  vogue  among  the  Kacharis  in  earlier 
days.  Some  traces  of  this  practice  would  seem  to  survive  in  the 
ordinary  marriage  ceremonial  which  still  to  a  large  extent  holds 
the  field.  A  case  somewhat  of  this  character  came  to  the  writer's 
knowledge  some  twenty-five  or  thirty  years  ago.  A  young 
Kachari,  employed  as  a  village  pandit  some  thirty  miles  from 
Tezpur,  carried  off  a  girl  from  the  house  of  her  parents  some 
ten  miles  away.  No  actual  violence  apparently  occurred  in  the 
matter,  and  very  likely  there  had  existed  for  some  time  previously 
a  private  understanding  between  the  two  young  people  con- 
cerned. But  what  was  done  clearly  had  not  the  approval  of 
the  girl's  parents ;  for  these  latter  laid  a  complaint  on  the 
subject  before  the  writer,  and  claimed  redress  for  the  wrong 
done  to  them.  When  the  offending  pandit  was  called  to 
account  for  his  conduct,  he  simply  pleaded  in  defence  that  what 
he  had  done  was  quite  in  accordance  with  the  time-honoured 
custom  of  his  forefathers :  and  on  payment  of  the  usual  bride- 
price,  at  a  somewhat  enhanced  rate,  the  parents  raised  no 
further  objection  to  their  daughter's  union  with  the  pandit. 

But  in  modern  times  "  marriage  by  capture "  is  rapidly 
passing  out  of  vogue,  if  indeed  it  be  not  already  absolutely  a 
thing  of  the  past ;  and  the  marriage  contract  is  usually  entered 
into  in  one  of  the  four  following  ways : — 

(a)  The  young  people  occasionally  take  the  matter  into 
their  own  hands,  as  in  the  case  above  mentioned,  ignoring  the 
wishes  of  their  parents  on  either  side.  This  procedure  is  looked 
upon  by  the  community  as  blameworthy  and  irregular,  but  not 
invalid.  The  bride's  parents  claim  an  immediate  payment  of 
Rs.  5/-  from  the  bridegroom,  and  also  exact  the  bride-price  at  a 
higher  rate  than  usual.  But  if  these  conditions  are  duly 


complied  with,  no  further  objections  are  as  a  rule  made  to  the 

(6)  The  more  usual  practice  is  as  follows.  When  the  son  of 
the  house  attains  a  marriageable  age,  i.e.,  from  fifteen  to  twenty 
years,  his  parents  at  once  set  to  work  to  find  a  suitable  bride 
for  him.  Having  made  their  choice,  they  pay  a  visit  to  the 
prospective  bride's  parents,  taking  with  them  certain  presents 
in  the  form  of  rice,  liquor,  betel-nuts,  &c.,  and  formally  ask  the 
daughter's  hand  for  their  son.  If  the  presents  are  accepted  by 
the  girl's  parents,  it  is  assumed  that  the  proposal  is  favourably 
received,  and  the  respective  parents  at  one  proceed  to  settle  the 
amount  of  the  bride-price  (gddhan),1  which  is  always  paid  by  the 
bridegroom's  family  to  the  parents  of  the  bride.  In  Darrang 
the  amount  so  paid  rarely  exceeds  Rs.  40/-  to  Rs.  60/-,  though 
in  Kamrup  and  Goalpara  it  is  said  to  be  often  double  these 
sums ;  and  even  larger  still  among  the  Rabhas,  Saraniyas,  &c. 
In  paying  this  formal  visit  to,  the  prospective  bride's  parents, 
those  of  the  bridegroom  are  always  accompanied  by  some  of 
the  elders  or  leading  men  of  their  own  village,  these  latter 
acting  as  witnesses  of  the  marriage  contract,  and  so  constitut- 
ing in  their  own  persons  a  very  effective,  if  irregular,  system  of 
marriage  registration.  The  stipulated  "  bride-price  "  need  not 
be  paid  at  once,  nor  does  the  actual  union  take  place  for  some 
months  after  the  marriage-contract  has  been  entered  into. 
And  in  no  case  does  the  bride  leave  her  parents'  home  until 
puberty  has  been  attained ;  so  that  the  manifold  and  obvious 
evils  inseparable  from  the  system  of  infant  betrothals,  and  the 
prohibition  of  the  marriage  of  child-widows  among  the  higher 
castes  of  Hindus,  happily  find  no  place  whatever  in  the  more 
wholesome  domestic  life  of  the  Kacharis. 

(c)  In  cases  where  the  bridegroom  or  his  parents  are  unable 
to  pay  the  bride-price  demanded  by  the  girl's  parents,  it  is 
usual  for  the  young  man  to  give  the  equivalent  in  personal 
service  in  the  house  of  the  bride's  parents,  much  as  Jacob 2 

1  Assamese,  ga-dhan,  body-price. — [Ed.] 

2  See  Genesis,  xxix.  20.     Very  eloquent  in  their  simplicity  and  straight- 
forwardness are  the  words  in  which  the  sacred  writer  describes  this  "tale 
of  true  love  "  in  the  days  when  the  world  was  young.     "  And  Jacob  served 
seven  years  for  Rachel  and  they  seemed  unto  him  but  a  few  days,  for  the  love 
fie  had  to  her."     "  The  labour  we  delight  in  physics  pain." 

iv  RELIGION  45 

served  in  Laban's  house  seven  years  for  Rachel.  The  period  of 
service  is  a  matter  of  arrangement  between  the  parents  of  the 
parties  concerned,  and  seems  to  vary  greatly,  i.e.,  from  three  or 
four  to  upwards  of  twelve  or  fifteen  years.  Cohabitation,  how- 
ever, is  allowed  after  about  twelve  or  eighteen  months'  service, 
and  at  the  conclusion  of  the  full  period,  the  young  people  are 
free  to  depart  whithersoever  they  will,  though  they  usually 
return  to  the  house  of  the  bridegroom's  parents.  This  form  of 
service  is  known  commonly  as  "  Olad  ghar-jiyd" 

(d)  A  modification  of  the  above  form  of  service  is  that 
which  is  known  as  "  m&l  ghar-jiya  "  (Darrang)  or  "  Khasrot-thdka 
ghar-jiya  "  (Kamrup).  In  this  case  the  prospective  bridegroom 
severs  all  connection  with  his  own  family,  and  identifies  him- 
self completely  with  that  of  his  bride,  in  whose  house  he  serves 
until  the  death  of  her  parents,  when  with  his  wife  he  is 
entitled  to  the  whole  or  the  usual  share  of  their  property.  On 
that  of  his  own  parents  or  relatives  he  retains  no  claim  what- 

The  actual  ceremony  of  marriage  among  the  Kacharis  can 
perhaps  hardly  be  looked  upon  as  of  a  religious  character,  but 
must  be  regarded  as  more  of  the  nature  of  a  social  and  festive 
gathering.  The  order  of  proceedings  is  somewhat  as  follows  : — 
On  a  fixed  day  a  party  of  the  bridegroom's  friends,  numbering 
some  four  or  five  women  and  thirty  or  forty  men,  set  out  for  the 
house  of  the  bride's  parents  or  guardians.  The  bridegroom  may 
himself  accompany  the  party  but  more  frequently  does  not. 
The  immediate  object  of  the  journey  is  to  bring  the  bride  to  the 
bridegroom's  house.  The  party  take  with  them  nine  loads  of 
viands,  i.e.,  two  men  carry  a  pig,  other  two  a  large  jar  containing 
rice-liquor,  four  men  carry  loads  of  tdmal-pan,  whilst  the  last 
man  carries  a  quantity  of  eatables  meant  for  the  men  and  cow- 
herds, who,  it  is  supposed,  might  otherwise  attempt  to  prevent 
the  marriage  party  from  reaching  the  bride's  house.  Two 
women  called  bairati  are  in  charge  of  these  materials  for  the 
wedding  feast.1  On  reaching  the  bride's  house  her  people  pour 
freely  on  the  whole  party  an  irritating  liquid  known  as  kachu 
pdni  (water  mixed  with  the  juice  of  the  kachu  plant)  and  to 
this  somewhat  rough  welcome  the  bridegroom's  party  are  bound 
1  This  may  be  a  survival  of  the  old  practice  "  marriage  by  capture."  t 


to  submit  without  complaining,  although  the  liquid  causes 
much  irritation  to,  and  even  blisters,  the  skin.  Finally  the 
good  things  brought  by  the  bridegroom's  party  are  taken 
charge  of  by  the  bride's  people,  and  the  wedding  feast  is  forth- 
with duly  prepared.  The  village  elders  sit  in  front  of  the 
assembly,  often  a  large  one,  and  the  younger  people  behind, 
each  guest  having  in  front  of  him  either  a  brass  plate  or  (more 
usually)  a  plantain  leaf.  On  each  of  these  plates  the  bride 
places  a  quantity  of  rice  and  curry,  serving  the  elders  first ;  and 
when  all  are  duly  provided  for  she  makes  obeisance  to  the 
assembled  company,  and  sometimes  kneels  in  their  midst  for 
their  sanction  and  approval  on  entering  upon  the  duties  of 
married  life,  her  husband  when  present  kneeling  with  her. 
Then  one  of  the  village  elders,  acting  as  Deori,  makes  a  short 
address  on  the  obligations  of  the  married  state,  ending  by 
wishing  every  blessing,  &c.,  to  the  newly  wedded  pair,  the  whole 
assembly  joining  in  at  the  end  with  one  voice  "  ertiina  zdthany," 
i.e.,  "  so  may  it  be,"  (Amen).  The  rest  of  the  day  is  spent  in 
feasting  and  merry-making,  but  towards  evening  the  bride  is 
formally  taken  to  the  bridegroom's  house.  If  on  the  journey 
she  has  to  cross  a  river,  road,  or  embankment  (dli),  &c.,  she  is 
given  at  each  such  crossing  nine  areca  nuts  and  nine  pan-leaves 
as  presents  to  overcome  her  assumed  reluctance  to  proceed 
further.  (Perhaps  another  relic  of  the  "  marriage  by  capture  " 
practice.)  Before  the  bride  enters  the  bridegroom's  house, 
those  who  bring  her  are  entitled  to  receive  a  jar  of  molasses 
as  well  as  one  of  rice-liquor,  and  are  hospitably  entertained  for 
the  night.  It  is  said  that  Kachari  custom  sanctions  a  certain 
interval  of  time,  sometimes  amounting  to  five  days,  between 
the  bride's  entering  her  husband's  house  and  the  consumma- 
tion of  the  marriage.  All  expenses  attending  the  marriage 
festival,  which  may  extend  to  Rs.  200/-  and  upwards,  are  borne 
by  the  family  of  the  bridegroom,  the  bride's  people  as  a  rule 
contributing  nothing. 

4.  Death. 

Immediately  after  death  occurs,  the  corpse  is  carefully  washed 
by  the  nearest  relatives,  the  arms  and  legs  straightened  out, 
the  head  anointed  with  oil,  and  the  hair  reverently  combed.  A 
fowl  or  a  pigeon  is  killed,  and  from  its  flesh  a  curry  is  prepared 

iv  RELIGION  47 

with  vegetables  and  condiments.  A  portion  of  this  food  is  then 
placed  close  by  the  deceased's  head,  and  the  act  of  feeding  him 
with  a  little  of  it  is  earned  out  up  to  a  certain  point,  though 
no  food  is  as  a  matter  of  fact  actually  placed  within  his  lips. 
This  act  is  repeated  some  ten  or  twelve  times,  and  what 
remains  of  the  curry,  &c.,  is  then  thrown  away,  no  one  being 
allowed  to  consume  it.  The  dead  man's  body  is  then  clothed 
with  the  best  garments  he  owned  in  his  lifetime,  and  the  whole 
covered  with  a  perfectly  new  cloth  ;  and  in  this  condition  it 
is  taken  outside  the  homestead  for  final  disposal. 

There  are  two  recognised  way  of  disposing  of  the  dead,  i.e.,  Disposal 
(1)  Burial  and  (2)  Cremation.  The  latter  is  looked  upon  as  dead6 
the  more  correct  and  respectable,  though  from  motives  of 
economy  the  former  is  by  far  the  more  common.  When  burial  l.  Burial, 
is  decided  upon  the  corpse  is  carried  to  its  last  resting  place, 
which  is  often  but  not  always  on  the  banks  of  a  running  stream, 
by  the  nearest  surviving  relatives,  no  women  being  permitted 
to  attend.  Should  it  be  necessary  for  the  burial  party  to  cross 
a  river  or  irrigation  canal,  a  cord  is  usually  stretched  from 
bank  to  bank  at  the  crossing  place,  either  above  or  below  the 
water,  to  serve  a  kind  of  bridge  for  the  spirit  (jiwa),  should  he 
be  at  any  time  disposed  to  revisit  the  scenes  amid  which  his 
earthly  life  has  been  passed.-*  Arrived  at  a  suitable  place 
(there  are  no  recognised  cemeteries  for  the  interment),  some 
pice  are  thrown  on  the  spot,  to  purchase  the  ground  from  the 
deity  (maddi)  to  whom  it  is  supposed  to  belong.  The  body  is 
laid  on  the  ground  and  the  grave  duly  dug,  but  before  placing 
the  corpse  therein,  the  friends  and  relatives  make  a  solemn 
procession  around  it,  five  times  in  the  case  of  a  man  and  seven 
in  that  of  a  woman.  The  body  is  then  placed  in  the  grave, 
a  somewhat  shallow  one,  and  the  nearest  relatives  proceed  to 
fill  it  with  earth.  In  carrying  out  this  process  a  certain 
precaution  is  taken, -i.e.,  a  hollow  reed  or  a  stalk  of  jungle  grass 
(kher)  is  placed  perpendicularly  in  the  grave  extending  from 
the  nose  of  the  deceased  to  a  point  somewhat  above  the  natural 
level  of  the  ground ;  and  in  filling  the  grave  with  earth,  great 
care  is  taken  not  to  injure  or  displace  this  reed,  so  that  the 
deceased's  spirit  may  be  able  to  breathe  should  he  so  desire. 

1  Another  instance  of  the  prevalence  of  a  belief  that  spirits  cannot  cross 
running  water  without  assistance.     (Cf.  The  Khasis,  pp.  135,  141. — Ed.) 


After  filling  the  grave  four  posts  are  erected  over  it,  one  at 
each  corner ;  and  threads  passed  around  them,  in  order  to 
prevent  the  spirits  of  other  men  from  interfering  with  the 
repose  of  the  deceased.  In  the  case  of  well-to-do  people  a 
certain  number  of  rupees  are  usually  buried  with  the  corpse, 
and  even  the  poorer  classes  make  offerings  of  pice,  &c.,  for  this 
pious  purpose  ;  whilst  brass  and  other  utensils  needed  in  every- 
day life  are  almost  always  left  on  the  grave,  it  being  supposed 
that  the  deceased  may  require  the  use  of  these  things  in  the 
new  state  of  existence  on  which  he  has  recently  entered. 
Finally,  a  rough  shed  of  thatch  is  put  up  close  by  the  grave  to 
shelter  the  deceased's  spirit  from  rain  and  sun. 

2.  Crema-  Very  much  the  same  procedure  is  in  vogue  in  the  case  of 
cremation,  which  is  looked  upon  as  the  more  respectable 
method  of  disposing  of  the  dead  among  the  wealthier  members 
of  the  community.  Cremation  usually  takes  place  on  or  near 
the  banks  of  running  streams,  and  is  prefaced  by  the  formal 
buying  of  the  land  from  the  deity  (maddi)  of  the  locality. 
Here  too  a  certain  difference  is  made  in  disposing  of  the  corpse 
of  a  man  and  of  a  woman  respectively ;  for  in  the  case  of  a 
woman  seven  layers  of  wood  are  placed  under  the  body  and 
seven  above  it,  whilst  in  dealing  with  a  man's  corpse  Jive  such 
layers  under  and  five  above  the  body  are  held  to  be  sufficient. 
After  placing  the  body  on  the  funeral  pile,  the  deceased's 
friends  and  relatives  pass  round  it  in  procession,  Jive  times  in 
the  case  of  a  man  and  seven  in  that  of  a  woman  (see  above). 
The  funeral  pile  is  then  set  on  fire  on  all  four  sides  at  once, 
and  the  fire  carefully  fed  until  every  vestige  of  the  deceased's 
body  is  consumed.  The  ashes  are  not  carried  away,  but  four 
posts  are  usually  placed  in  the  ground  enclosing  the  oblong 
space  on  which  the  cremation  has  been  carried  out ;  and  on  the 
tops  of  these  a  cloth  is  spread,  which  is  held  to  shelter  the 
spirit  of  the  deceased  from  sun  and  rain. 

Indica-          From  what  has  been  written  above,  it  would  certainly  seem 
tions  of     ^at  the  Kachari  has  some  idea,  however  vague  and  unsatis- 

behef  in  ° 

life  after    factory,  of  a  life  prolonged  after  the  great  change  we  commonly 

death.       cajj  «  death,"  though  his  notion  of  the  future  life  is  merely  that 

of  the  "  first  (earthly)  life  renewed."     It  has  obviously  little  or 

nothing  in  common  with  the  hope  of  life  eternal  in  Christ,  i.e., 

iv  RELIGION  49 

life  in  God,  life  with  God,  life  like  God,  given  us  in  the 
New  Testament  (see  1  Cor.  xv. ;  Phil.  iii.  20,  21 ;  1  John 
iii.  2). 

From   such  information   as   the  writer    has   been    able   to  Festivi- 
ascertain,  there  would  seem  to  be  few  well-marked  domestic  i'ei)ome8 
festivities  among   the    Kacharis,   though  the   race    is  a  very  tic. 
sociable  and  hospitable  one,  and   the  people    entertain  each 
other  freely  and  frequently. 

The  two  following  may  perhaps  be  mentioned : — 

A.  "  Mikham  gaddn  zdndi,"  i.e.,  the  "  eating  of  the  new  rice." 
This  is  a  feast  held  about  December  10th  (there  is  apparently 
no  fixed  date),  in  celebration  of  the  commencement  of  the  cutting 
of  the  great  rice  crop  of  the  year  (sdli  dhdn).     It  is  on  this 
occasion  that  the  proceeds  of  the  newly  harvested  rice  are  first 
partaken  of  as  an   actual  article   of  food.     There  is  perhaps 
nothing  of  a  religious  character  about  it,  its  main  feature  being 
a  very  free  consumption  of  rice-beer,  often  resulting  in  much 

B.  "  Mahu  hanai  "  (or  thdmfoi  hasa-nai  K},  i.e.,  "  the  driving 
away  of  mosquitoes."     This  is  a  form  of  merry-making  got  up 
mainly  by  the  young  people  of  a  village  about  the  latter  part  of 
November  or  early  in  December,  to  celebrate  the  departure  of 
the  mosquito  plague  for  the  cold  season.     Some  twenty-five 
years  ago  the  writer  was  passing  the  night  in  a  school-shed, 
and  was  aroused  from  sleep  by  much  shouting,  dancing,  &c.,just 
outside  the  door.     On  looking  out  into  the  moonlight  he  saw  a 
group  of  fantastic  figures,  some  of  them  clothed  in  dry  plantain 
leaves,  and  wearing  a  head-dress  made  of  thatch  of  preposterous 
proportions   resembling    an    enormous   conical-shaped  "dunce 
cap."     On  inquiring  the  reason  of  the  gathering,  he  was  told 
that  the  performers  were  "  driving  away  the  mosquitoes."     No 
doubt  this  is  an  amusement  got  up  by  the  younger  members  of 
the  community,  who  are  sometimes  rewarded  for  their  efforts 
by  small  gifts  of  money,  food,  &c.,  from  their  elders  (cf.  "  Guy 
Fawkes ,"  at  home). 

There  would  seem   to  be    no   distinctively   tribal   festivals  2.  Tribal, 
characteristic  of  the  Kacharis  of  this  district  (Darrang),  unless 
the  January  and  April  Bihus  can  be  regarded  as  such.     The 
origin  of  these   two   festivals  is   still   somewhat  obscure   and 



uncertain,  and  further  light  on  the  subject  is  greatly  to  be 
desired.  Certainly  they  are  not  exclusively  Kachdri  festivals, 
for  they  are  observed  by  the  Hindus  in  this  neighbourhood 
as  well  as  by  the  Kacharis.1  Among  the  latter  the  January 
Bihu  is  usually  celebrated  about  the  12th  of  that  month.  For 
weeks  previously  the  young  people  have  been  busy  building 
"  Bihu  huts  "  of  jungle  thatch ;  also  in  erecting  tall  bamboos, 
sometimes  surmounted  by  ragged  flags,  &c.,  while  straw,  thatch 
and  other  combustibles  are  piled  up  around  these  bamboos  to  the 
height  of  many  feet.  On  the  appointed  Bihu  night  these  sheds, 
&c.,  are  all  set  fire  to  amid  much  rejoicing,  dancing,  singing,  &c., 
and  of  course  there  is,  as  on  all  like  occasions,  a  liberal 
consumption  of  the  national  rice-beer.  For  a  month  or  two 
previously  to  this  festival,  the  village  boys  and  young  people 
have  had  to  guard  the  growing  and  ripening  rice  crops  night 
and  day ;  and  in  all  likelihood  this  merry-making,  which  is  very 
much  of  the  nature  of  a  "  Harvest  home,"  is  largely  an  expression 
of  their  joy  and  gladness  at  being  relieved  from  this  hard  and 
irksome  duty. 

The  April  Bihu,  the  origin  of  which  it  is  not  so  easy  to 
account  for,  seem  to  be  a"  Saturnalia  "  of  much  more  objection- 
able character.  The  people  abandon  themselves  freely  both  to 
drunkenness  and  other  forms  of  licentiousness,  and  cases  of 
serious  assault  and  riot  have  been  known  to  accompany  and 
follow  these  gatherings.  Among  the  Darrang  Kacharis,  this 
festival  lasts  for  seven  days,  during  which  little  or  no  work  is 
done,  the  whole  period  being  given  up  to  merry-making, 
dancing,  feasting,  &c.  As  is  the  practice  among  their  Hindu 
neighbours,  on  the  opening  day  all  cattle  are  taken  to  the 
nearest  river  or  tank,  and  there  formally  bathed,  and  after- 
wards sprinkled  with  a  preparation  compounded  of  rice-beer 
(zu),  tomatoes,  and  turmeric.  The  horns  are  smeared  with  oil, 
and  occasionally  oil,  ashes,  and  pounded  rice-flour  are  applied 
in  patches  to  the  bodies  of  the  cattle.  This  duty  discharged, 
the  people  abandon  themselves  to  sheer  merriment,  the  younger 
folks  especially  giving  themselves  up  to  dancing  and  singing,  &c. 

1  The  interesting  thing  is  that  a  Visu  festival  is  also  in  use  in  Eastern 
Bengal.  The  matter  ia  one  which  might  be  investigated,  say,  by  the 
Vangiya  Sahitya  Parisat.— [Ed.] 

iv  RELIGION  51 

The  verses  sung  at  these  festivals  seem  for  the  most  part  to  be 
little  better  than  mere  meaningless  jingle-jangle  rhymes,  made 
up  on  the  spur  of  the  moment,  though  occasionally  some  of 
them  give  an  insight  into  the  peculiar  humour  of  the  Kachari 
character  and  temperament.  One  or  two  samples  of  what  is 
sung  at  these  gatherings  are  given  below  : — 

1.  Agoi,  Boisdgi,  faidd  nang. 

Dana  bathar  jdnai-khai  rang  zdgan  zang. 

2.  Add  Pud  Ram,  laga  laga  thangdang  ; 
Gdmsd  hadang,  fall  hddang,  mdna  brabdang  ? 

3.  Add  Raguna,  fdriyd,  ai  fdriyd, 
Namoisa,  gunoisa,  fdriyd,  add  fdriyd  ; 

A  ma  mdaeyakhosa  zuriyd,  ddd  zuriyd ; 
Ddosd  mdseyd-khosa  zuriyd  ddd  zuriyd, 
&c.  &c.  &c. 

The  above  represents  an  exchange  of  playful  banter  between 
two  members  (brother  and  sister)  of  a  Kachdri  family  who  are 
about  to  take  part  in  a  Bihu  festival  or  some  similar  merry- 
making. The  brother,  Pua  Rdm,  with  all  a  young  man's 
impatience  and  eagerness  to  enjoy  the  fun,  calls  to  his  sister, 
Boisagi,  to  come  out  from  the  house  and  join  him  at  once,  while 
she  from  within  (couplet  two)  pleads  womanlike  for  a  few 
minutes  longer  grace  to  complete  her  personal  adornment. 
Both  brother  and  sister  then  join  in  calling  on  a  near  relative, 
a  mauzaddr,  not  to  shirk  his  social  responsibilities,  but  at  once 
to  provide  the  ways  and  means  for  a  plentiful  Bihu  feast.  The 
general  sense  of  the  three  couplets,  somewhat  freely  translated, 
is  given  below  : — 

1.  Sister  Boisagi,  come  out  and  play  ; 
This  is  our  Bihu  holiday  ; 

Don't  move  inside  the  house  all  day. 

2.  Dear  brother  mine,  I'll  come  anon 
I'm  putting  my  best  sari  on  : 

Five  minutes'  grace  ;  don't  harshly  press  ; 
We  ladies  miwt  have  time  to  dress. 

3.  Uncle's  a  wealthy  mauzaddr  ; 
Long  has  he  served  the  great  Sirkar  ; 
He'll  gladly  give  a  bounteous  feast, 
A  round  half-dozen  pigs  at  least. 

&c.  &c.  &c. 

E   2 



The  following  couplet,  which  is  not  connected  with  the  fore- 
going, calls  perhaps  for  some  explanation.  The  words,  of  which 
a  free  translation  is  appended,  are  supposed  to  be  uttered  by  a 
Kachari  damsel,  the  village  belle,  to  a  fickle  lover,  who,  after 
paying  court  to  her  for  a  time,  deserts  her  and  marries  another. 
The  faithless  swain  is  a  man  of  some  little  importance  in  the 
village  community  as  a  dang  ddliyd,  or  drum-major,  one  of  his 
functions  being  to  beat  the  big  drum  (modal)  at  all  festivals, 
marriage  processions,  &c.  He  has  the  misfortune  to*  lose  his 
wife  after  a  month  or  two  of  wedded  life,  and  then  would  fain 
return  to  the  "  old  love." 

Armed  therefore  with  his  big  drum  of  office  and  apparelled 
in  his  gayest  attire,,  he  presents  himself  before  the  Kachari 
belle  and  renews  his  suit  for  her  hand.  Now  the  average 
Kachari  maiden  has  a  wholesome  sense  of  her  own  value  (in 
married  life  she  is  not  unfrequently  the  "  better  man "  of  the 
two),  and  no  more  relishes  being  "jilted "  than  her  sisters  in 
other  and  more  civilised  parts  of  the  world.  She  at  once, 
therefore,  repels  his  advances  in  the  most  positive  and  un- 
qualified way ;  and  not  only  so,  but  in  the  presence  of  a  large 
bevy  of  scornful  village  maidens,  all  highly  resentful  of  the 
faithless  lover's  fickleness,  she  proceeds  to  pour  contempt  on  his 
suit  in  the  following  severely  sarcastic  couplet  ("  facit  indignatio 
versus  ") : — 

Dang-daliya,  dangdaliya. 
Mozang  mozang  gan-bla-ba 
Nang-kho  nang-li-ya  ;  nang-li-yi 

Handsome  raiment  though  you  wear, 
I'm  not  for  you,  I  do  declare. 

(The  original  Kachari  verse  is  singularly  emphatic.) 

Or     "  You  come  to  me  in  bright  array  : 
I'm  not  for  you  ;  be  off,  I  say. 
This  dandy  swain  my  mate  would  be  ? 
No  'second-hand  lover,'  girls,  for  me." 

The   above  couplets  may  perhaps  be  fairly  looked  upon  as 
typical  illustrations  of  the  Kachari  temperament  and  character, 


and  it  may  be  inferred  from  them  that  human  nature  among 
this  interesting  race  does  not  greatly  differ  from  human  nature 
in  other  and  more  civilised  countries  of  the  world. 

It  may  perhaps  be  added  that  whilst  the  Garos  living  in  the 
plains  observe  both  the  January  and  the  April  Bihus  their 
brethren  in  the  Hills  ignore  both,  though  they  would  seem  to 
have  certain  special  harvest  festivals  of  their  own.  The  people 
of  the  North  Cachar  Hills,  on  the  other  hand,  seem  to  observe 
only  one  annual  Bihu,  of  the  nature  of  a  harvest  home,  at  any 
time  between  October  and  December.  These  Kachari  festivals 
are  almost  always  attended  by  an  immoderate  consumption  of 
the  national  rice-beer,  not  to  say  by  actual  drunkenness  in  not 
a  few  cases.  On  the  other  hand,  they  have  their  good  side  in 
that  they  help  to  keep  the  people  to  some  extent  beyond  the 
influence  of  the  destructive  vortex  of  Hinduism,  in  which  their 
simple  primitive  virtues  might  otherwise  be  so  readily  engulfed, 
and  the  adoption  of  which  in  whole  or  in  part  is  invariably 
accompanied  by  a  grave  and  deep-seated  deterioration  in 
conduct  and  character. 


ON  this  section  of  the  subject  there  is  no  need  to  dwell  at 
any  length ;  indeed,  materials  for  the  purpose  are  to  a  great 
extent  wanting.  Of  traditions,  properly  so  called,  whether 
historical  or  otherwise,  the  Kacharis  of  this  district  would 
seem  to  be  almost  absolutely  destitute.  Nor  can  they  be 
regarded  as  a  superstitious  race,  for  it  is  only  when  suffering 
from  a  serious  outbreak  of  cholera,  Kdld-azdr,  or  other  like 
public  calamity,  that  they  make  frequent,  and  sometimes 
costly,  offerings  to  their  deities  as  shown  in  some  detail  in  the 
preceding  section.  As  a  rule  the  people  are  of  a  bright,  cheerful 
disposition;  and  as  a  planter  friend  once  remarked  to  the 
writer,  of  all  the  various  races  employed  on  his  extensive  tea 
estates  the  Kacharis  were  the  only  people  who  might  be 
frequently  heard  whistling  merrily  as  they  went  to  and 
from  their  daily  toil.  Moreover,  the  subject  of  Kachari  folk- 
lore has  already  been  effectively  dealt  with  by  a  writer  fully 
competent  to  do  it  ample  justice ;  and  perhaps  the  objects 
aimed  at  in  this  section  will  be  best  attained  by  re-issuing 
three  or  four  of  the  more  characteristic  and  typical  of  the 
interesting  series  of  Kachari  folk-tales  collected  by  this 
writer,  some  fifteen  years  since,  from  an  intelligent  member  of 
the  Kachari  race  still  (1906)  resident  in  this  district 

1  See  A  Collection  of  Kachari  Folk-tales,  &c.,  by  J.   D.  Anderson,    Esq., 
I.C.S.  (retired).     Assam  Secretariat  Press,  Shillong,  1895. 




In  Section  IV  some  reasons  have  been  given  for  the  view 
that  the  Kachari  race  has  a  special  respect,  if  not  reverence, 
for  the  element  of  water,  especially  perhaps  for  flowing  water, 
rivers,  &c.  And  the  latter  part  of  the  following  folk-tale 
furnishes  some  sort  of  explanation  of  this  presumed  respect 
and  reverence. 

Duima  diiisd  ni  Tchordng. 

Sanui  brai  burui  man. 
Phare  unau  bisur  gothai  brai- 
burui  zalangba,  buruia  zinga- 
sinanai  brainu  khithanaise 
"  Brai,  zangfurhd  zi  danai 
fisafur  dang,  bisur  ma  zananai 
thanggan  ?  "  Erui  bungba 
braia  mai  hu  khamnu  lagi 
Khuberniau  thangnanai,  mai 
sobai  bisor  dru  lai-megong, 
lafa  megong,  bifur  mani-ni 
bigot-zului  binanai  na-i-au 
labonanai  sansni  sanzat 
lamaibau  hor  thdnanai,  na 
man-fai-naiiai  buruinu 
khithanaise  :  "  Ang  gasenu 
bigot-zului  Libobai."  Phare  na- 
i-au  sanne-su  thananai,  khet 
khamnu  lagi  sorai  fitha-giindui 
lananai  ha  nainu  lagi  thang- 
naise.  Phare  gaham  ha  datse 
nai-ui  frabui  fatbrui-thing-bu 
zura  khananai  dinndnai  na 
fainaise.  Unau  sanse-ni-khali 

How  the  rivers  were  made. 

Once  upon  a  time  there 
lived  a  man  and  an  old  woman. 
And  when  they  were  quite 
old,  the  old  woman  said  to  her 
husband,  "  How  shall  these  our 
children  get  food  when  we  are 
gone  ? "  So  the  old  man 
travelled  afar  to  the  great  god 
Kuvera,1  the  god  of  riches,  and 
taking  from  him  seedlings  of 
paddy,  pulse,  mustard,  and 
gourds,  journeyed  for  eight 
days  and  so  reached  his  home. 
And  after  staying  a  couple  of 
days  he  set  forth  to  cultivate, 
taking  dry  food  with  him. 
And  first  he  marked  out  a 
piece  of  rich  land  by  placing 
boundaries  on  all  four  sides  of 
it,  and  so  came  home.  And 
again  he  set  out  another  day 
with  hoe  and  axe,  and  cut  and 
burned  the  jungle,  and  cleaned 
the  soil,  and  after  worshipping 

1  The  hideous  Kuvera,  god  of  wealth.  He  was  a  white  man  with  three 
legs  and  eight  teeth.  Apparently,  the  same  as  the  Hindu  Pluto  ;  and  lord  of 
the  shades  as  well  as  of  wealth. 



khodal  sekha  bifur  mani 
lananai  thangnanai  hagra 
eonanai  aru  bi  hagrafurkho 
saun  anai  h  a  k  h  o  mazang 
khamnaise.  Binifrai,  sanza 
sanap  aru  sa  khla  fatbrui- 
thing  khulumnanai  khona 
bruithing  phongse  phongse 

Biaunu  ha  gasenu  mannaise. 
Phare  baidi  baidi  mai  am  fifang 
megong  thaigong  boikhobu 
funanai  hunaise.  Phare  haba 
zapba  braia  nai-au  thangnanai 
zirai-nanai  thanaise.  Obasu 
azibu  dang  khalibu  dang  sanse 
buruia  mai  nainu  lagi  braikho 
lugu  homnaise.  Khintu  braia 
bungnaise  "  Lamaiau  dui  guia. 
Nangha  dui  gangba  ang 
maunifrai  hunu  ? "  Theobu 
bi  brai-ni  khorang  khnasonga- 
laba  embrabra  braikho  hom- 
naikhai  langnang-naise.  Phare 
thangui  thangui  maini  ha 
man-si  man-si  zaba,  burui-ha 
dui  gdngnanai  brainu  khit- 
habal,  braia  bungnaise,  "  Ang 
nangnu  duhui-nu  khitha- 
dangman,  nongga  ?  Theobu 
angni  khorang  khna-i-alaba 
fainanai  angkho  dukhu  huiu." 
Ereui  bungba,  buruia  bung- 
naise, "  Dini  ang  dui  manlang- 
aba  thoi-si-gan.  Nang  ang-nu 
dui  hunu-nanggo."  Phare 
unau  braia  mungbu  upai  inane 
zdnanai,  dui  namai-nangnaise. 
Namaie  namaie  fukurimanse 

on  each  side  of  his  field — on 
the  east  and  on  the  west,  on 
the  north  and  on  the  south — 
he  struck  one  blow  with  his 
hoe  on  each  side. 

And  when  all  was  ready,  the 
old  man  planted  his  seedlings 
of  various  sorts,  and  finally 
went  home  and  rested.  And 
so,  as  time  went  by,  the  old 
woman  desired  vehemently  to 
see  how  the  crops  were  getting 
on.  But  the  old  man  said, 
"  There  is  no  water  on  the 
road,  and  if  you  grow  athirst 
you  will  get  no  relief."  But 
she  persisted  and  prevailed, 
and  made  her  husband  take 
her  along.  And  as  they  went 
and  were  now  quite  close  to  her 
husband's  field,  behold,  the  old 
woman  began  to  be  very  thirsty. 
And  the  old  man,  being 
enraged,  cried  "  What  did  I 
tell  you  ?  There  is  no  water 
and  yet  you  would  come." 
But  she,  being  a  woman,  said 
"  If  you  do  not  give  me  to 
drink  I  shall  die.  So  water 
you  must  procure  as  best  you 
can."  So  the  old  man,  seeing 
no  other  way,  went  to  seek  for 
water.  And  after  long  search, 
seeing  a  tank,  he  bound  the 
old  woman's  eyes  with  a  cloth 



nuba  bi  buruini  megonkho  hf 
zang  khananai  be  fukuri-ha- 
lagi  langnaise.  Aru  braia 
bungnaise  "  Nang  be  fukuri 
kho  naialaba  dui  lang." 
Khintu  dui  langba-ru  maba 
maba  dui  ni  dau  aru  hangsufra 
birlai-ba,  bikho  khnananai, 
bikho  nainu  lubuinanai  nai- 
naise.  Beaunu  daufurni 
gele"nai  aru  rong  zlainai 
nunanai  bihabu  brai  zang  rong 
zlainu  mon  zanaise.  Obasu 
braia  khama,  buruia  agara. 
Phare  braia  buruini  khorang 
lanu  gnang  zanaise.  Obasu 
bisurha  aji-bu-thaiu  khali-bu- 
thaiu  gatha  gathai  zanaise. 
Zaba,  bisurkho  fisinu  haekhai 
braia  bisurkho  buruin  i  khorang- 
zang  Hem-ni  hazo-au  lang- 
nanai  beaunu  fukuri  manse 
khamnanai  baidi  baidi  na 
khamnanai  duiau  hogarnanai 

Phare  unau  Sri  braia  suima 
fudrun  mase  lananai  mui  sessa 
aru  khusung  namaibaie  namai- 
baie  dui  gangsu  dangman. 
Ereaunu  Sri  braia  be  fukuriau 
thang  -  fnang  -  naise.  Beaunu 
dui  nunanai  langnu  namaiba, 
nafra  bikho  raidaunaise, 
"Afa,  nang  beni  dui  langba, 
zangfurkho  gahara  kham- 
nanggan."  Beaunu  bi  sumai 
lananai,  duikho  langba,  nafra 
bungnaise,  "  Da  nang  zang- 
furkhu  Loitho  halagi  king." 

and  dragged  her  to  the  water's 
edge  and  said  to  her,  "  Drink 
if  you  will,  but  look  not  upon 
the  tank."  Now  the  ducks 
and  other  .water-fowl  were 
playing  in  the  water,  and 
were  making  a  merry  noise, 
clacking  and  quacking.  And, 
the  old  woman  being  curious, 
like  all  her  sex,  peeped  at  them. 
And,  seeing  them  at  their  play, 
she  too  desired  to  be  happy 
in  her  husband's  society,  and, 
though  he  was  very  loth, 
prevailed  with  him.  And  so 
in  due  course  there  were  born 
to  them  many  sons  and 
daughters.  And  then,  in  order 
to  provide  for  their  food,  he 
journeyed  to  the  Himalayas 
and  digged  a  great  tank, 
stocked  with  many  kinds  of 

Now,  one  day  the  god  Sri, 
the  god  of  good  luck,  came 
that  way  with  his  white  dog, 
a-hunting  for  deer  and  hares 
and  tortoises.  And  when  he 
came  to  the  margin  of  the  tank, 
behold  he  was  very  thirsty. 
But  when  he  stooped  to  drink, 
the  fishes  said  to  him  eagerly 
that  he  must  grant  them  a 
boon  in  return  for  their  water. 
To  which  he  assented ;  and 
when  he  had  satisfied  his  thirst, 
the  fishes  said,  "  Take  us  to  the 



Beaunu  Sri  braid  gaigainu 
lauthi  zang  dru-dru  bu-bu-ba 
khithu  khithu  dui  bu-hui 
bunai,  aru  nafra  bu  fainaise. 
Bibaidinu  duisd  zdnaise. 
Obasu  unau  nafra  Sri  brai-nu 
Ido  thaise  aru  khumra  thaise 
hotnaise.  Phare  bikhonu 
labonanai  sase  khurma-ni  na- 
i-au  hapfaiba  binu  zo  mikham 
dru  oma  mase  buthdtnanai 
hunaise.  Phare  okha  naiba 
Sri  braia  be  khumrd-kho  bini 
khurmanu  hunaise.  Huba  bi 
khumrakho  dankhauba  thaka 
gaza  mannanai  aru  bati-se 
kham  zahunu  lagi  oma  buthat- 
naise.  Aru  oma  bikhau l  man- 
se dinnaise.  Zakhang-ui-frabui 
fainu  namaiba  oma  bikhaukho 
Sri  brainu  hunaise.  Huba 
dru  braia  laukhobu  khurmanu 
hunaise.  Bi  lau-au  darbi  gaza 
dangman.  Khintu  be  kho- 
rangkho  braia  mithia.  Aru 
bini  khurmaia  -  bu  bi  -  nu 
khitha-i-a-khuise.  Unau  braia 
nai-au  fainaise.  Aru  biha  na- 
i  -  au  bini  fisazu  -  kho  zabrd 
zananai  thanai  nunaise.  Bi  lao 
aru  khumra-kho  khurma-kho 
hulang-naikhai  bibaidi  zabrd 
zanai  aru  bini  khurmaia-bu  be 
lao  aru  khumra-kho  lakhman- 
aikhai  zabra  gabrap  zananai 
thanaise.  Obasu  bini  unau 
nafra  oza  za-thi-nanai  bisur-ni 
na-i-au  thangndnai  gadan  nai- 

1   =  a  "side 

great  river,  the  Brahmaputra 
(or  Lohit)."  So  the  god  Sri 
tied  them  to  his  staff,  and  drew 
them  after  him,  making  runnels 
of  water.  And  that  is  how  the 
rivers  were  made.  And  the 
fishes  in  return  gave  him  a 
pumpkin  and  a  gourd.  And, 
taking  these  with  him  to  a 
friend's  house,  his  friend 
regaled  him  with  rice-beer 
and  pig's  flesh;  and  in  the 
morning  he  gave  his  friend  the 
pumpkin.  But  when  his  friend 
cut  open  the  pumpkin,  it  con- 
tained nothing  but  pure  silver. 
So  he  bade  the  god  Sri  stay 
another  day,  and  brewed  fresh 
beer  and  killed  another  pig, 
and  when  he  was  going  away 
gave  him  a  flitch  of  bacon  to 
take  with  him.  So  the  god 
Sri  gave  him  also  the  gourd. 
But  when  he  cut  open  the 
gourd,  it  contained  nothing 
but  pure  gold.  And  so  the 
god  Sri  journeyed  to  his  home. 
And  when  he  got  there,  he 
found  that  his  little  daughter 
was  very  ill.  And  that  was 
because  he  had  given  away  the 
presents  which  the  fishes  had 
made  him.  But  the  fishes 
took  pity  on  him,  and  came  to 
him  in  the  guise  of  physicians, 
and  told  him  that  if  he  would 
worship  and  do  sacrifice  on 
the  banks  of  rivers,  then  his 
"  of  pork. 



hui-nanai1  khithanaise  "  Nang- 
sur  zusa  mairong  dm  goe  zorase 
aru  dau  mase  lananai  duisa-i- 
au  hunanai  khulumbd,  nang- 
sur-ha  zabra  zagan.  Besur 
bibaidi-nu  khamnanai  zabra 
zanaise.  Binikhai  da  Barafra 
duisa  duima-furkho  khulumu. 

daughter  would  be  healed; 
which  he  did.  And  that  is 
why  we  Kacharis  worship 
rivers.  And  that  is  all. 


The  moral  of  the  following  story  is  a  thoroughly  sound  one. 
It  is  obviously  a  kind  of  sermon  on  such  familiar  texts  as 
«'  Procrastination  is  the  thief  of  time,"  "  Never  put  off  to 
to-morrow  what  you  should  do  to-day,"  &c.  Its  teaching  is 
clearly  the  same  as  that  which  finds  expression  in  the  well- 
known  words : 

"  There  is  a  tide  in  the  affairs  of  men 
Which  taken  at  the  flood  leads  on  to  fortune  : 
Omitted,  all  the  voyage  of  their  lives 
Is  bound  in  shallows  and  in  miseries." 

Sdse  olsia  gdthd  ni  khordng.  The  Story  of  the  Lazy  Boy. 

Sase  olsid  gath£  dangman, 
Bi  malai  hali  oinanai  mai  gai 
zap  -  ba,  obasu  bi  mamar 
dubliau  hali  oi  -  hui  -  dang. 
Phare  Buthur2  braia  olsid 
gatha-kho  hali  oinai  nunanai 
bi  thangnu  haekhai,  bungnaise, 
"  Helui  gatha,  nanglai  da  ma 
hali  oidang-ui,buthura  mobaba- 
nu  thangbai.  Da  mai  gaiba 
ma  za  -  bau  -  nu  ? "  Theobu 
bi  bikho  nai-fina,  mosokno  bua 
dhum  dhum  dham  dham 

There  was  once  a  very  lazy 
boy.  And  when  everybody  else 
had  planted  out  his  paddy,  he 
was  only  setting  forth  to 
plough.  But  the  old  man  of 
the  season,  seeing  him,  said 
"  The  season  has  gone ;  what 
are  you  ploughing  for  now  ? 
The  paddy  is  all  planted  out, 
and  it  is  late."  But  the  boy 
would  not  listen  to  him,  and 
ploughed  sturdily  ahead,  beat- 
ing his  cattle  soundly  as  he 

1  Gaddn  nai-hiii-nai  means  "  observing  omens." 
3  I.e. ,  the  season  personified. 




bunanai,  natzret  nat-flet   hali 
oibai      thaiu.       Unau      braid 
khonle     khonle     sungnaikhai 
gathaa  brap-nanai  nai-gedau- 
nanai    bung-naise,    "  Nanglai 
mauni    brai    lui  ?     Ang    kho 
hali  oinaiau  be  baidi  sungbai 
thaiu  ?  Angha  ma  zadang,  ang 
su  mithidang."     Beaunu  braia 
bungnaise   "  Nongga,  lui   afa, 
ang  nangkho  gaham  khorang- 
su       khithanu       namaidang." 
Beanu  gathaa  bungnaise  "  Ma 
khorang  dang  ?    Mamar  kitha. 
Angha  hali  oinu  san  zolangbai." 
Obasu    braia  bungnaise    "Da 
hali  oinanai  ma  zanu  ?    Buthur 
thangbai,"  hanba,  gathaa  bung- 
naise  "Bi    bobething   thang- 
khu?     Mau    thangkhu,    nang 
angnu  kithananai  hu.  Ang  mai 
gainu    manaba,    ma    zananai 
thang  -  gan  ? "       Obasu    braia 
bungnaise      "  Nang      aglanu 
malai  zang  luguse  hali  oinanai 
mai   gaiba  hamgauman,  dalai 
buthurkho  sur  nunu  hago,  aru 
mabrui      bikho       laifin-nu  ? " 
Beaunu      gathaa      bungnaise 
"  Nang  khithinanai  hunu  haba, 
ang  bikho    zeruibabu   labonu 
hagan."     Hanba   bikho   braia 
bulu       haekhai       khithanaise 
"  Nang  bething  thangui  thaba 
khara    phut  -  thru  -  thru    brai 
sase    thokon    thunanai    dubli 
gezer  gezer  thangnai    nugan. 
Obania    nang    bikhonu    horn. 
Aru   bi  zere  khitha-i-u,  nang 

went.     And  when  the  old  man 
again    and    again    questioned 
him,  he  cried  "  What  sort  of 
old    man   is   this  ?      Can    he 
not  see  that  I  am  busy  ?      I 
know   very   well   what    I   am 
about."     But  the  old  man  said 
gently,  "  Nay,  my  son  :  but  it 
is  for  your  good  that  I  would 
speak  to  you."     And  the  boy 
said  "  Speak  quickly  then,  and 
have  done  with  it."     And  the 
old   man  said,   "  My  son,  the 
season  is  gone ;  what  avails  it 
to  plough  now?"     And  then 
the  boy  cried  "  Where  has  it 
gone  ?     And  when  has  it  gone  ? 
And  why  has  it  gone  ?     And 
how  shall  I   find   it?"      But 
the  old  man  of  the  season  said, 
"You   should   have   ploughed 
when  others  did.     The  season 
has    gone,  and   no   man    can 
bring  it  back."     But  the  boy 
said,  "  I  must  bring  it   back ; 
else,  how  shall  I  eat,  and  how 
shall    I    live  ?      Do    tell    me 
where  it  is  gone."     And  as  he 
would    not   let    the    god    go, 
finally,  losing  patience,  he  said 
"You  go  over  there,  and  you 
will  find   an  old  man  with   a 
snow-white  head  ploughing  in 
a  field.     You  get  hold  of  him 
and   do  as  he  tells  you."     So 
saying,    he   made   his   escape. 
Then   the  lad  hastened  home 
to   his  mother  and  bade   her 
cook   supper  quickly,   and  tie 




bebaidinu  khamdui "  hanndnai, 
buthur  braid  thdngnaisei. 
Obdsu  gathad  hdli  hogarndnai 
naiau  fainanai  biraa  buruikho 
mdmdr  kham  songnu  hundnai, 
zaui  Idngui  bimdnu  kithdnaise 
"Ai,  nang  gabun  fungzdni 
kham  songnanai  hu,  dru 
mairong  khothase  bunndnai 
hu.  Ang  buthur  braikho  husu- 
lang-nu  ndnggo.  Mand-thu 
dini  ang  hdli  oinaiau  brai 
sdse  faindnai  mai  gainaini 
Buthurd  thdng-bai  hanndnai 
kithdndi,  dru  bikho  husu- 
langbd  mangan,  dru  bi  zere 
khdmnu  thinu,  bebaidi  -  nu 
kham,  hanndnai  kithaldngnai." 
Obdsu  burid  okhd  naibd 
kham  songnanai  gathakho 
zd-hu-ui  lang-hu-ui  mairong 
khotdse  bunnanai  hunanai 
gatha-kho  hogarnaise.  Gathad 
thangui  thdngui  zaikhonu  lugu 
manu,  bikhonu  sungu,  bisur 
bungu :  "  Buthur  thdngbai 
hannanai  mithigo.  Bi  mdbrui 
aru  bobething  thdngkhu, 
bikho  zangfur  khithdnu 
haid."  Beaunu  gathaa  gadau- 
srau  zdndnai  bobething  thdn- 
gan  hanndnai  zerenu  manu 
erenu  dubli  gezer  gezer  thdbai- 
baibd  gazanau  brai  sdse  nu- 
hotnaise.  Nuhotbdbinu  buthur 
zdnu  ndnggo  nungndnai,  bikho 
bungnaise  "  Afd  rath3, ;  dase 
ratha.  Ang  nang-ni-au  manse 
khordng  sungnu  ndmaidang.  " 

him  up  some  rice  to  take  with 
him  on  the  morrow,  for  he  was 
going  to  bring  back  the  de- 
parted season  for  ploughing. 

"  For,"  said  he,  "  when  I  was 
ploughing  to-day,  an  old  man 
told  me  that  the  season  was 
gone,  and  that  if  I  went  after 
him  and  pursued  him  I  would 
find  him,  and  that  I  must  do 
as  he  would  tell  me."  So  she 
rose  very  early  in  the  morning, 
and,  giving  him  to  eat  and 
drink,  sent  him  on  his  way. 
And  as  he  went,  he  asked  all 
he  met  "  Can  you  tell  me 
where  the  old  man  of  the 
season  has  gone  ?  "  But  they 
said,  "  Everyone  knows  that 
the  season  is  gone,  but  where 
it  is  gone,  or  why  it  is 
gone,  who  can  say  ? "  At  last, 
when  he  was  nearly  in  despair, 
he  saw  an  old  man  ploughing 
afar  off,  and  shouted  to  him 
"  Stay  a  moment,  father,  stay ; 
I  want  to  ask  you  a  question." 
But  the  old  man  was  busy, 
and  went  his  way.  Then  the 
lad  pursued  him  and  never 
ceased  calling  after  him  till 
at  last  the  old  man  losing 
patience,  turned  upon  him, 
and  said,  "  What  pertinacious 
noisy  lad  is  this,  who  won't 
leave  me  alone  ? "  But  the 
lad  said,  "Be  not  angry,  my 
father;  I  am  fallen  into  great 
trouble,  and  it  behoves  you  to 




Theobu  braid  khnasonglaba 
thdngui  thaiu.  Gathaa  -  bu 
khithu  khithu  thangui  than- 
gui  khithalangu.  Gabauzang 
braia  nai  fafinnanai  bungnaise 
"  Md  hekhong  hekhong  sur 
gathalui  mauni  lui  nanglai  ? " 
hannanai  sungba  gathaa  bung- 
naise "A\fd  brai,  da  braplui. 
ang  manse  dukhuau  gaglaina- 
nai,  nangni  khathiau  faidang," 
hanba  braia  "  Mamar  khitha ; 
mdmar  khitha;  ang  thangnu 
nanggo,  angha  naa  gazan, 
hor-tho-hui-gan ; "  hannaise. 
Obasu  gathaa  khithanaise, 
"  Afa,  ang  nangkho  buthur  brai 
baidi  nui'u.  Binikhai  nang 
angkho  da  buthat.  Malaia 
boibu  mai  gaithra-bai ;  ang 
un  zananai  dase-bu  gainu  ha-e- 
khuise.  Binikhai  nang  dase 
thang-fafin-ba  angha  mai 
zdgan "  bungnaikhai,  braia 
binu  khitha-naise,  "  Ang  da 
faibai,  thang  fa-finnu  halid, 
nang  benifrai  mamar  thang- 
nanai,  zese  hdiu  gathdng- 
gabram  hali  oinanai  mai 
gaihuithang."  Obasu  gathad 
fainanai  zerenu  manu  erenu 
khothia  x-khini  -  kho  gaibrop- 
nanai  dinnaise.  Zapbai. 

help  me."  "  Speak  quickly, 
then,"  said  the  old  man.  And  the 
boy  said,  "  I  take  you  to  be 
the  old  man  of  the  season,  and 
I  pray  you  not  to  slay  me. 
All  the  others  have  planted 
out  their  paddy,  and  I  have 
fallen  behind,  and  have  planted 
nothing.  Therefore,  unless  you 
turn  back,  I  cannot  hope  to 
get  any  harvest."  But  the  old 
man  said,  "  It  is  too  late  for 
me  to  return.  Go  you  back, 
and  plant  your  paddy  as  best 
you  can."  And  so  the  lad 
hastened  back  and  planted 
out  his  seedlings  in  such  heed- 
less haste  as  became  him. 
And  that's  all. 


By  his  Hindu  neighbours  the  Kachari  is  often  looked  upon 
as  a  Bosotian,   a  simpleton  from  whom  little   in  the  way  of 

1  Assamese. 


intelligent  action  is  to  be  expected.  And  undoubtedly  in  the 
matter  of  mere  book-learning  he  is  never  likely  to  take  a  very 
high  place,  nor  will  he  shine  brightly  in  the  examination-room 
as  an  ordinary  competitor.  On  the  other  hand,  he  is  often 
endowed  with  certain  practical  qualities  which  are  of  great 
value  to  him  in  the  battle  of  life.  He  usually  has  no  small  share 
of  what  is  well  called  "the  saving  sense  of  humour,"  which  prevents 
him  from  taking  himself  too  seriously,  and  does  not  a  little  to 
lighten  for  him  the  cares  and  toils  of  life.  Of  his  possession  of 
this  invaluable  endowment  many  illustrations  will  be  found  in 
the  collection  of  Kachari  Folk-tales,  &c.,  referred  to  above,  a 
volume  which  the  curious  in  such  matters  will  do  well  to 
consult.  And  in  addition  to  his  sense  of  humour,  he  has  often 
a  goodly  supply  of  sound  homely  mother  wit,  which  stands  him 
in  good  stead  when  brought  into  relations  with  other  men,  who 
from  a  merely  intellectual  point  of  view  are  undoubtedly  his 
superiors.  These,  and  other  like  endowments  of  great  price, 
often  enable  him  to  seize  with  unerring  instinct  on  the  weak 
points  of  an  opponent's  position  and  to  avail  himself  of  them 
with  no  little  dexterity  and  success.  In  the  following  amusing 
story,  for  instance,  the  simple  (?)  Kachari  servant  completely 
outwits  his  astute  Brahmin  master,  turning  the  tables  on  the 
latter  to  his  no  small  dismay  and  discomfiture. 

Bdmun  dru  lini  sdkor  ni  The  Brahmin  and  his 

Khordng.  Servant. 

Sase  Bamun  dangman,  aru  There  was  once  a  Brahmin 

biha     sakor     sase     dangman.  who  had  a  servant.     And  one 

Sanse  sane  zang  Bamun  ni  bi-  day  when  they  were  going  to 

hau-bikhunzu-ni  naiau  thang-  the  house    of   the    Brahmin's 

nu-lagi  thalit  gur  gakhir  sorai  mother-in-law,    the    Brahmin 

lananai  sakhor-kho  ban  huna-  gave  his   servant  a  bunch  of 

nai,  bikho  khithanaise  "  Nang  plantains  and  other  things  to 

be  thalit-furkho  da  za.     Zaba  carry,  and  said  to  him,  "  Now, 

angha  khithu  fatse  bu  megon  mind    you     don't    eat    those 

dang."    Eru  hannanai  thangui  plantains,  for  I  can  see  just  as 

thanaise.       Phare     unau    boi  well  behind  as  I  can  in  front." 

sakhorha     mikham     ukhuiba,  And,  so    saying,    he   marched 




thalit  -  kho  lananai,  thaise 
thaise  binu  un-phat-si  khith- 
inanai  bebaidinu  boib6-kho-bu 
za-thro-langnaise.  Phare  unau 
bisur  dapseau  zirai-huiba,  Ba- 
mun  bibankho  nueakhai, 
sakhor-ni  sigang-au  sungnaise 
"  Bibana  ma  zakhu  ?  "  Oba 
sakhora  bungnaise,  "  ang  duk- 
hui-nu  nangnu  khithinanai  bi 
thalit-furkho  zabai.  Aru  d4 
nang  manu  sung-dang  ? "  Be- 
baidinu Bamund  bolo  x  haekhai 
sri  sri  thanaise.  Phare  besur 
beaunu  kham  song-za-nu-lagi 
zothon  khamnaise,  aru  beaunu 
nd  khawai  ma-ne-su  mandang- 
man.  Bini  sakhornu  mase 
bud  hunanai,  gdsenu  Bamund 
lanaise.  Phare  zebld  kham 
man-naise,  sane-bu  zanu  lagi 
zodangman.  Ereaunu  sakhora 
sungnaise  "  Bamun  gohain,  na 
khawaaia  mase  bua  daugaiu, 
na  dulu  dulu  daugaiu  ?  " 
Beaunu  Bamuna  bungnaise 
"Dulu  dulu  daugiau."  Oba 
bi  bini  nd  masekho  bini  kham- 
au  khubui-hot-detnaise,"Mana- 
thu  be  hatsing  dauganu  haia, 
nang-ni  zang  duluse  zathang." 
Beaubu  gaigai-ni  khorang- 
zang-nu  zennanai  bikho  mung- 
b4  bung-nu  haia-khuise. 
Unau  khamkho  sakhord  hatsing 

Phare  binifrai  thangui  than- 
guisimli  bifang  duluse  nunanai, 

ahead.  And  presently  the  ser- 
vant, getting  hungry  plucked 
one  of  the  plantains  from  the 
bunch,  and,  holding  it  out  to 
his  master's  back,  ate  it.  And 
this  he  did  again  and  again 
till  all  the  plantains  were 
gone.  And  when  the  Brahmin 
presently  asked  what  had  be- 
come of  the  load,  the  servant 
said,  "  You  told  me  you  could 
see  behind  as  well  as  in  front. 
So  I  showed  you  each  plan- 
tain before  I  ate  it.  And  you 
never  said  anything." 

So  the  Brahmin  went  his 
way  speechless.  Presently  they 
stopped  to  cook  their  midday 
meal,  and  they  had  got  with 
them  a  few  khawai  fish.  But 
the  Brahmin  gave  only  one  to 
his  servant,  and  kept'  the 
rest  himself.  And  when  he 
was  about  to  eat,  the  servant 
asked  innocently  "  Oh  !  Brah- 
min, do  khawai  fish  swim  about 
singly  or  in  shoals  ?  "  To 
which  the  Brahmin  said, 
"Why,  in  shoals,  of  course." 
So  the  servant  said,  "Then 
my  fish  had  better  go  with 
yours."  And,  so  saying,  he 
threw  his  fish  on  the  Brah- 
min's mess,  which  was  defiled. 
So  the  Brahmin  got  no  dinner, 
and  the  servant  ate  the  whole. 

A  little  later  they  came 
across  a  number  of  simul  trees. 

1  Assamese. 


Bamun-kho  sungnaise  "Bamun 
gohain,  be  nunai  bongfang- 
fra  ma  bongfang  ? "  Bamuna 
khithanaise  "  sirmolu."  Sak- 
hora bungnaise :  "  Sirmolu 
nungga.  Bikho  hirmolu  hanu." 
Phare  obasu  phong-ba  phong- 
ba sonu  lagi  khorang  khalai- 
naise.  Phare  gurkhia  duluse 
lugu  mannanai,  bisurkho  sung- 
ba,  "  himulu  "  hanndnai  bisur 
bungnaise.  Obanu  sunga-hoa- 
laba  Bamunkho  phongba 

Aru  bebaidi  thangui  thangui 
burma  duluse  nunanai  sakhora 
Bamunkho  sungnaise  "  Bamun 
gohain,  boi  gangsu  zabai  thanai 
zanthu-fur  ma  bungo  ? " 
Bdmuna  khithanaise  "  Bifur 
sag."  Sakhora  bungnaise 
"  Nungga,  bifur  sagoli."  Beau- 
bu  bibaidinu  Bamuna  phongba 
so  -  za  -  naise.  Aru  binifrai 
thangnanai  dau-ba  duluse 
nunanai  sungnaise.  "  Bamun 
gohain,  befur  ma  dau  ? " 
Bamuna  bungnaise  "  Nang 
bifurkho  mithia  ?  Bifurkho 
bog  hanu."  Bi  bungnaise 
"  Ma  bog  hanu  ?  Nungga. 
Bikho  boguli  hanu."  Beaubu 
bebaidinu  Bamuna  phongba 
soza  naise.  Unau  bi  manse 
slok  hannaise : 

Seeing  them,  the  servant  asked 
his  master,  "  And  what  do  they 
call  these  trees,  master  ? " 
And  the  Brahmin  (being  an 
educated  man)  said,  "  These 
are  sirmolu."  But  the  servant 
said,  "  Not  so,  not  so.  These 
are  himulu,"  and  offered  to  bet 
five  blows  that  it  was  so.  And, 
meeting  some  cowherd  boys, 
he  asked  them  what  the  trees 
were.  And  when  they  said 
"himulu,"  he  gave  the  Brahmin 
five  blows  without  further 

Next  they  met  a  drove  of 
goats.  "  And  what  may  these 
be,  Brahmin,  these  animals 
that  are  grazing  ?  "  And  the 
Brahmin  said,  "These  be  called 
chag."  But  the  servant  cried, 
"  Not  so,  not  so.  These  are 
chagali."  And  the  result,  as 
before,  was  that  the  Brahmin 
was  worsted  and  got  five  blows. 
And  next  they  came  across  a 
flock  of  paddy-birds,  which  the 
Brahmin  called  "Bog,"  but 
the  servant  "Boguli."  And 
again  he  was  worsted  and  got 
his  five  blows.  On  which  he 
consoled  himself  by  reciting 
an  Assamese  saying,  to  the 
effect  that  it  is  ill  arguing  with 
a  fool : 

"  S£g  sirmolu  bog  ba-kdran 

Tini  pdnch  panra  kil  suda  akaran." 




Pha  binifrai  thangnanai 
bihaibikhunzu  ni  n£  khathi 
manba,  sakhorkho  thin-hot- 
gru-nanai  khithanaise  "  Nang 
thangnanai  raamar  kham 
songnu  thin ;  manathu  angha 
mikham  ukhui  -  su  -  dang." 
Phare  bibaidi-nu  bi  thang- 
nanai, Bamun-ni  bikhunzunu 
hangs  u  buthatnanai  sobai 
khare  zang  mikham  songnanai 
dinnu  khithanaise,  aru  bung- 
naise,  "  Nangni  nangza-maduia 
megongau  gabap  nunggaba 
zaia."  Obasu  bi  songnanai 
dinnaise.  Phare  unau  biza- 
maduia  so-fai-banu,  mamarui 
kham  khutnanai  hunaise.  Biza- 
maduia  ukhui  -  su  -  nai  -  khai, 
kham  megong  mungbo  basia- 
lab£  zanu  gnang  zanaise. 

Abasu  unau  bebaidinu  baidi 
baidi  lazi  mannai  zanaikhai, 
Bamuna  bidanulagi  sitti  gangse 
lit-nanai  sakhorni  akhai-au 
hunanai  na-i-au  hotnaise. 
Lama  sase  thangba,  beaunu 
litnu-grang  sdse  mansui  lugu 
man-nanai,  binu  sitti  khithi- 
naise.  "  Beau  ma  litdang,  ang- 
nu  khitha."  Obasu,  mansuia 
sitti-kho  nainanai,  "Nangkho 
dannu  lage  Bamun  ni  bida-kho 
thindang"  erui  bungba,  bi 
sitti-kho  phisinanai  bungnaise 
"  Afa  nang  angnu  gubun  sitti 
gangse  litnanai  hu."  Aru  be 
sittiau  erehai  lit,  "  ada,  nangni 
fisahingrzauzang  be  sakhora 

And  when  they  were  now 
come  near  the  Brahmin's 
mother-in-law's  house,  and  the 
Brahmin  was  become  very 
hungry,  he  sent  his  servant  on 
ahead  to  beg  them  to  get 
supper  ready.  So  the  servant 
went  on  ahead  and  bade  the 
Brahmin's  mother-in-law  cook 
a  duck  and  put  in  lots  of  plan- 
tain ashes,  which  the  Kacharis 
use  for  salt,  well  knowing  that 
his  master  disliked  its  acrid 
taste.  So  the  duck  was  cooked 
with  plenty  of  alkali. 

And  when  the  Brahmin 
arrived,  his  meal  was  set  before 
him,  and  he  was  so  hungry 
that  he  had  to  eat  it  whether 
he  liked  its  savour  or  no. 

And  so  in  various  ways  the 
Brahmin  was  put  to  shame  by 
his  servant.  So  he  wrote  a 
long  letter  to  his  brother,  and 
putting  it  in  his  servant's 
hand,  bade  him  deliver  it. 
But  he  went  a  little  way,  until 
he  met  a  man  who  could  read 
and  write,  and  he  bade  him 
tell  him  what  was  written  in 
the  letter.  And  the  man  read 
him  the  letter,  which  was  to 
the  effect  that  the  brother  was 
to  kill  the  servant.  On  this, 
the  servant  tore  up  the  letter 
and  bade  his  friend  write 
another  one,  saying:  "Dear 
brother,  on  receipt  of  this  letter 

KACIIARI  CIIRI.  (Kamnip  District). 

/•'r,u>t  a  riiflttigi-a/ih  by  Mrs.   //.   A.  Cnlqiiha 


man-hui-ba-nu  haba  khamna- 
nai  hu.  Ang  benifrai  thang- 
nanai bisur-ni  haba  nunu 
nangga"  Bebaidinu  be  sitti- 
kho  langnanai  Bamun-ni 
bidanu  hunaise.  Khintu  bi 
sittikho  nunanai,  monau 
dukhu  man-su-naise.  Theobu, 
bigui-ni  khorang  garnu  haek- 
hai,  fisazu  zang  mamar  haba 
khamnanai  hunangnaise. 

Phare  sanse  thananai  bi 
fainanai  bida  -  kho  sungba 
gasenu  khorang  khnanai,  bi 
sakhor  kho  dannulagi  sri  sri 
upai  khamnaise.  Be  upaikho 
sakhorni  hingzaud  mithinanai, 
bekho  onnanai  binu  khithan- 
aise.  Khithaba,  hingzau  zang 
horau  uduniau  mosofisa  mase 
kha-khrop-nanai  futhunanai 
dinnaise.  Phare  Bamuna  fisazu 
zang  udubai  thadang  mon 
khamnanai,  sri  sri  thangnanai 
mosofisakho  dannaise.  San-so- 
ba  mosafisdkho  danfnang-nai 
nunanai  mamarui  bizamadui 
sakhor-kho  garhuinu  lagi 
thinnaise.  Khintu  bizamaduia 
bisurni  bariau  langnanai,  lan- 
zai  dihonndnai,  fopnanai  din- 
naise. Unau  Bamuna  mosa 
buthatnai-ni  nungge  sri  sri 
uddhar  zanu  lagi  gamini 
mansuifurkho  lingnanai  phozu 
hudangman.  Phare  mansuifur 
zanu  zoba,  sakhora  bariau 
thangnanai  moso  lanzai-kho 
bunanai  bungnaise  "  Bdmuna 

marry  my  servant  to  my  niece 
without  delay.  I  shall  not  be 
able  to  come  to  the  wedding." 
Taking  this  letter,  the  ser- 
vant went  to  his  master's 
brother,  who  was  much  vexed, 
but  dared  not  disobey.  Ac- 
cordingly, though  reluctantly, 
he  married  the  servant  to  his 

And,  when  the  master  came 
to  see  if  his  servant  had  been 
disposed  of,  and  heard  what 
had  happened,  he  set  about  to 
kill  him.  But  his  niece  got  to 
know  of  the  matter  and  told 
her  husband,  who  got  a  calf, 
and,  binding  it  hand  and  foot, 
put  it  by  her  in  her  bed.  And 
in  the  night  the  Brahmin  came, 
and  thinking  the  calf  was  his 
niece's  husband  sleeping  by 
her  side,  killed  it.  And  when 
he  found  out  his  mistake  in 
the  morning,  and  learned  that 
he  was  guilty  of  cow-killing,  he 
bade  his  niece's  husband  go  and 
bury  the  calf  in  all  haste.  And 
the  servant  dragged  the  calf 
into  the  garden  and  buried  it 
with  its  tail  sticking  out  of  the 
ground.  Meanwhile,  the 
Brahmin  set  to  work  to  get 
himself  purged  of  the  offence 
of  cow-killing,  and  summoned 
the  villagers  to  a  feast  without 
telling  them  why.  And  when 
they  were  all  seated, the  servant 
F  2 




mosobu  buthard-khui  phozu- 
bu  hud  khiii,  hui-su."  Bebaidi 
bungbai-thdbd,  phozuni  man- 
suifra  khndndnai,  phozu 
zaidkhuise.  Bebaidimi  bisur 
ud  dhdr  mandkhuise.  Zapbai. 

ran  out  into  the  garden  and 
hauling  at  the  calf  s  tail,  called 
out,  "  The  Brahmin  didn't  kill 
a  cow,  Oh,  no.  And  that  isn't 
why  he  gives  a  feast,  Oh,  no." 
So  the  feast  broke  up,  and  the 
Brahmin  was  not  absolved. 
And  that's  all. 



Aglaiau  sase  raza  dangman, 
aru  bihd  hoasa  sase,  hingz- 
hausd  sase,  dangman.  Hoasdni 
nau  Raona,  hingzhausani  nau 
Rdoni,  dangman.  Lase  lase 
bisur  gaded  zaabd  Raonaia 
gagai  binanaukhonu  habd 
khamnu  namainai.  Sanse 
Raonaia  runuiau  thahoinai. 
Amphdra  bini  bifaia  ikham 
zdnu  namaibd  manakhuise, 
manathu  bi  runuiau  thdnakho 
bifaidmithidkhauman.  Amphd 
bini  sdse  bandid  runuiau 
nundnoi  rdzdui  sigdngau 
khithanaisui ;  abdnu  razaid 
thangndnoi  sanghoinaisui, 

There  was  once  a  king  who 
had  one  son  and  one  daughter. 
The  son's  name  was  Raona  and 
the  daughter's  Rdoni.  As  they 
gradually  grew  up  together, 
Raona  wished  to  marry  his 
sister.  One  day  Raona  re- 
mained alone  in  an  outhouse 
unknown  to  his  father ;  and 
when  the  latter  wished  his  son 
to  come  to  dinner,  the  young 
man  could  not  be  found. 
However,  a  servant  saw  the 
youth  in  the  outhouse  and 
told  the  king,  who  going  to 
the  boy  asked  him  what  was 
the  matter.  "  If,"  said  the  king, 

balui  "  Afa,  nangnu  md  ndng-     "  you  want  an  elephant,  I  will 
go  ?     Hdthi   nanggobd,  hdthi     give  you  an  elephant ;  if  you 

hugan  ;  gorai  nanggobd,  gorai 
hugan;  theobo  nang  manau 
dukhu  da  kham,"  hannanoi 
khithdnaisui.  Aba  Rdonaia 
hannaisui,  "  Angnu  mungbo 
nanga  ;  nang  sumai  Idbasu  ang 
khithdgan."  Amphd  bifaia 

want  a  horse,  I  will  give  you  a 
horse ;  but  do  not  abandon 
yourself  to  sorrow  in  this  way." 
And  then  Rdond  replied,  "I  am 
in  no  special  want  of  anything, 
but  if  you  give  me  a  promise 
on  oath,  I  will  tell  you  what  is 

1  From  the  writer's  Outline  Grammar  of  the  Kachdri  (Bard)  Language, 
pages  80-82.     Shillong,  1884. 



mungbo  uphai  manikhai  sumai 
lananoi  khithanaisui,  "Nangnu 
zikhonu  natiggo,  bikhonu 
hugan."  Hanba  Raonaia 
bungnaisui, "  Angnu  Raonikho 
haba  khamnanoi  hu;  abasu 
ang  mikham  dui  langgan." 
Aba  bifaia  bibaidi  khorang 
khnananoi  manau  zabra-sin 
dukhu  mannaisui.  Amphare 
bifaia  guninanoi  sumai  lanai- 
khai  haba  khlamnanoi  hunu 
zathan  khlamnaisui ;  khintu 
be  khorangakha  Raonini  sigan- 
gau  khithanu  bada  hunai ; 
binikhai  raubo  khithai-a- 
khuise.  Ampha  Raonia 
mairang  sunu  thangba  duiga- 
thanau  sase  buruia  Raoniniau 
sangnaisui,  balui,  "  Nangsurha 
ma  zaadang?"  Aba  Raonia 
khithanaisui,  "Zangfra  adaha 
haba  zaagan."  Aru  buruid 
hannaisui,  "  Maunithu  hingz- 
hausa  zang  haba  zaanu  ? " 
Raonia  bungnaisui,  "  Ang 
khithanu  haia."  Abanu  buruia 
hannaisui,  balui,  "  Ai,  nang 
zangsu  haba  zaanunu."  Aru 
Raonia  hannaisui,  "  Ai,  be 
khorang  thik  na  ?  "  hannanoi 
sangba,  buruia  sumai  lanaisui. 
Aba  Raonia  akhrangsau 
birlang-naisui,  aru  Raunikho 
birlangnai  nunanoi  Raonaiabo 
guzarinanoi  hasu-langnaisui. 
Bikhonu  mansuifra  akha 
khrumniakhonu  "Raona 
guzaridang  "  hannanoi  bungu ; 
aru  Raoni  khatldngnanai  thap 

the  matter."  Thereupon,  the 
king,  seeing  that  there  was  no 
help  for  it,  took  an  oath  say- 
ing, "Whatever  you  want,  I 
will  give  it  to  you."  And  then 
Raona  said,  "Give  me  per- 
mission to  marry  Raoni,  and 
then  I  will  eat  my  food."  On 
hearing  this  the  king  was 
sorely  troubled  in  his  mind; 
but  remembering  the  terms  of 
his  oath,  he  took  steps  to  bring 
about  the  marriage,  at  the 
same  time  forbidding  anyone 
to  mention  the  matter  to 
Raoni,  who,  therefore,  heard 
nothing  about  the  proposed 
marriage  with  herself.  But 
one  day  Raoni  went  to  the 
village  stream  to  clean  the 
rice  for  the  daily  meals,  when 
an  old  woman  met  her  and 
inquired,  "What  is  going  on 
in  the  palace  to-day  ? "  And 
Raoni  replied,  "  The  son  of  the 
house  is  to  be  married  to-day." 
And  when  the  old  lady  asked 
further  "  But  to  whom  is  he  to 
be  married  ? "  Raoni  replied, 
"  Mother,  I  cannot  say."  And 
then  said  the  old  dame, 
"  Raoni,  it  is  you  that  he  is 
going  to  marry."  And  when 
Raoni  inquired,  "  Mother,  can 
this  be  true  ? "  the  old  woman 
took  an  oath  to  confirm  what 
she  had  said.  And  then 
Raoni  at  once  flew  right  away 
up  into  the  sky,  and  when 
Raona  saw  Raoni  thus  flying 


naifinba  bini  makhanga  at  away,  he  shouted  after  her, 
baidi  nuiii,  bikhonu  akha  doing  his  utmost  to  catch  her. 
mablibnai  hanu ;  Barafra  eroi  It  is  these  loud  shouts  and 
bhabiu.  threats  of  Raona  that  men 

call  "  thunder "  ;  and  when 
Raoni  occasionally  looks  back 
to  see  if  her  pursuer  is  gaining 
upon  her,  she  in  so  doing 
reveals  for  an  instant  the 
brightness  and  beauty  of  her 
face,  glowing  like  fire  ;  and  it 
is  this  bright,  dazzling  beauty 
of  her  countenance  that  men 
call  "  lightning." 

Hence  during  a  thunder  storm  may  sometimes  be  heard  the 
words  "  Raonikho  Raonaia  hasudang,"  i.e.  "  Raona  is  chasing 

It  is  not  impossible  that  the  foregoing  story  may  be  a 
Kachari  version,  greatly  altered,  of  a  well-known  episode  told 
at  length  in  the  Ramayana,  i.e.  the  abduction  of  Sita  by 
Ravana  the  demon-king  of  Ceylon.  The  name  Ravana  in  a 
slightly  altered  form  (Raona)  is  not  unknown  among  the 
Kacharis  of  this  district  (Darrang).  About  four  or  five  miles 
south-west  of  the  Udalguri  Thana  there  are  still  existing  the 
remains  of  a  very  fine  earthwork  road,  known  to  this  day  as 
"  Rowana's  embankment "  (Ravanagarh),  which  gives  its  name 
to  the  Mauza  in  which  it  is  situated.  The  construction  of  this 
earthwork  must  have  involved  a  large  outlay  of  labour,  but  the 
tradition  about  it  is  that  it  was  thrown  up  in  a  single  night 
by  Ravana  and  his  followers,  the  Rakhshases,  Asurs,  &c. 

N.B. — Among  the  Kacharis  of  the  North  Kachar  Hills,  the 
mode  of  accounting  for  thunder  and  lightning  is  very  different 
from  that  given  above,  though  towards  the  end  of  the  account 
given  by  the  late  Mr.  Soppitt l  certain  statements  are  made 
which  would  serve  to  show  that  the  two  theories  have  some- 
thing in  common. 

1  See  Soppitt 's  Historical  and  Descriptive  Account  of  Kachdri  Tribes  in  the 
North  Kachar  Hill*,  pages  52  (foot)  to  55. 


THE  mother  tongue  of  the  Bara  race  at  least  as  spoken  in 
this  (Darrang)  district  undoubtedly  belongs  to  the  "  Aggluti- 
native" as  distinct  from  the  Inflexional  family  of  languages. 
Here  and  there,  perhaps,  certain  slight  traces  of  inflexion  may 
be  found,  but  even  these  are  doubtful  and  in  any  case  very  rare, 
indeed  where  they  exist  at  all  it  may  perhaps  be  assumed  that 
they  have  been  adopted  with  some  obvious  modifications  from 
the  speech  of  their  Assamese  and  Bengali  neighbours. 

In  the  following  pages  only  a  very  slight  outline  sketch  of 
Kachari  Grammar  is  attempted,  as  the  writer  has  already  dealt 
with  the  subject  at  some  length  over  twenty  years  ago,1  and 
most  of  the  conclusions  then  arrived  at  still  hold  good,  so  far  as 
the  Kacharis  of  Darrang  are  concerned.  But  it  is  hoped  that 
what  little  is  given  here  may  be  of  service  to  those  who 
may  have  occasion  to  learn  and  make  use  of  this  language  in 
after  years.  No  attempt  is  made  to  draw  any  clear  or  well 
defined  line  between  Accidence  and  Syntax,  for  these  two  closely 
allied  branches  of  the  subject  may  be  best  studied  together  by 
the  use  of  certain  illustrative  sentences  which  to  the  attentive 
reader  will  give  an  insight  into  the  structure  of  the  language, 
whilst  at  the  same  time  doing  something  to  supply  him  with  a 
useful  vocabulary  of  words  and  phrases. 

1  He  may  perhaps  venture  to  refer  the  curious  in  these  matters  to  his 
Outline  Orammar  of  the  Kachari  (Bdrd)  Language.  Shillong,  1884.  An 
admirable  summary  of  the  leading  features  of  this  form  of  Non-Aryan 
speech  is  given  in  the  Linguistic  Survey  of  India,  Vol.  Ill,  Part  II,  by 
Dr.  Grierson,  Calcutta,  1903,  pages  1-17  and  ff. 



1.  Nouns. 
1.     Gender. 

A.  Nouns     denoting    inanimate    objects    have    no    formal 
distinction  of  gender  as  Od,  a  bamboo,  mai  rice  (paddy). 

B.  In  the  case  of  animate  objects,  the  gender  of  the  noun  is 
indicated  by  a  separate  qualifying  word,  placed  usually  after 
the  noun,  e.g. 

(a)  Hoa,  man  (male) ;  Hingzhau,  woman  (female)  used  only  of 
human  beings. 

(&)  "  Zala,"  zo'  used  of  birds,  e.g.  Dau  zald,  a  cock ;  dau  zo,  a 

2.  Number. 

Plurality  (there  is  no  dual)  is  indicated  by  adding  fur,  fra,  or 
far,  to  the  singular  as 

masa,  a  tiger. 

masa-fur  (-fra  or  -far),  tigers. 

3.     Case. 

The  case  endings,  which  hold  good  of  nouns,  pronouns,  and 
adjective  are  given  below  : — 

Singular.  Plural. 

Nom masa   a "\       masa-far,  tigers,  &c. 

Obj kh6 a (case-endings   identical  with  those 

in  singular  number). 

Instru zang     by  a  ..." 

Dat no to  a    ... 

Abl ni-frai from  a.. 

Poas  ni _  ofa...\ 

„     ...  ha    „        / 

Loc au  (iau)  in  a    ... 

Voc Heloimosa...  0 _, 

(a)  The  possessive  case  has  two  signs,  the  former  (ni)  being 
by  far  the  more  commonly  used. 

(&)  The  ablative  case  ending  is  a  compound  one,  as  its  proper 
sign  (frai)  is  preceded  by  that  of  the  genitive,  ni.  The  same 
remark  holds  good  sometimes  with  the  locative  case, 

II.     Adjectives. 

1.  Many  adjectives  begin  with  the  letter  g,  to  which  a  very 
short  vowel  is  attached,  so  short  indeed  that  in  rapid  speaking 

vi  OUTLINE   GRAMMAR,   ETC.  73 

the  vowel  of  the  first  syllable  may  not  be  heard  at  all,  whilst  in 
composition  this  first  syllable  is  sometimes  omitted  altogether, 

"  mansoia  gaham      na  ? "          Ham-go, 
man        good   (is  he  ?).     Good  (he)  is. 

2.  In  composition  the  adjective  usually,  though  not  in- 
variably, follows  the  noun  it  qualifies,  as 

Doima  ga-sum. 
(The)  water  black  =  (kala  pani). 

3.  Comparison. 

This  is  effected  by  appending  the  syllable  "sari"  or  "khri" 
(  =  than)  to  the  word  with  which  comparison  is  made,  this 
word  being  always  in  the  dative  case.  The  superlative  degree 
is  denoted  much  in  the  same  way,  the  noun  being  preceded  by 
some  word  signifying  "  all,"  thus 

(a)  Bi  ang-no-khri  gft-zau — he  (is)  taller  '  than  I  (com- 

(5)  Bi  boi-na-sari  ga-zau-sin — he  is  the  tallest  of  all  (super- 

In  making  these  comparisons  the  first  syllable  (ga)  of  the 
adjective  is  often  omitted  :  as 

nang  ang-no-khri  zau  (ga-zau)  i.e.  zau  =  (ga)  zau,  tall, 
you     I        than  tall     (are). 

4.     Numeral   Adjectives. 

The  numerical  system  in  this  District  is  very  defective,  only 
seven  digits,  i.e.  se,  ne,  tham,  bre  (br5i),  ba,  ra  (da),  sni  (smi), 
being  generally  used,  though  the  remaining  three,  skh(5,  zat,  zi 
(zu),  are  occasionally  recognised.  There  is  also  a  useful 
collective  word  za-khai  =  four,  which  when  followed  by  two 
numerals  is  to  be  multiplied  by  the  former  whilst  the  latter  is 
to  be  added  to  the  product  so  obtained ;  thus 

zakhai-tham  sa  tham, 

Four  x  three  +  three  =  fifteen  (men). 

Burma  zakhai-bre  ma-ne, 

Goats  four  x  four + two  =  18  goats. 


Before  the  second  numeral  are  always  inserted  certain  mono- 
syllables, which  classify  the  noun  referred  to,  e.g.  as  above,  sa 
(human  beings)  'and  ma  (irrational  animals).  This  classifying 
syllable  always  indicates  the  point  at  which  the  multiplication 
ends  and  the  addition  begins. 

III.  Pronouns. 

(a)  The  personal  pronouns  which  undergo  no  change  of  form 
to  indicate  gender  are  : — 

1.  Ang   I.  Zang-fur    we. 

2.  Nang thou.  Nang-sur you. 

3.  Bi       he,  she,  it.        Bi-sur  (fdr)  they. 

The  possessive  pronoun  is  expressed  simply  by  putting  the 
personal  pronoun  in  the  possessive  case,  as — 

Be"  ang  ni  no",  this  (is)  my  house.     This  me  of  house  (is). 

To  nouns  expressing  close  family  relationship,  pronominal 
prefixes  of  possession  are  commonly  added,  e.g. — 



Your   ... 

Ang-ni  a-fa. 
Nang-ni  nam-fa. 
Bi-ni  bi-fa.  1 

Ang-ni  d-i. 
Nang-ni  nam-ma. 
Bi-ni  bi-ma. 

1  A  very  similar  construction  in  Assamese  may  be  compared  with  this,  viz 

My morb6pai 

Your...     torbaper 

His tarbapek 


Interrogative  pronouns  in  common  use  are — 

1.  Sur  (sar)— who  ? 

2.  Ma— what  ?     Plural  ma-fur. 

3.  Ba-be — which  (of  two  or  more)  ? 

The  demonstrative  pronouns  are : — 

1.  Be" — this  (near). 

2.  BSi— that  (far). 

3.  Bi — that  (of  remote  distance). 


Properly  speaking,  there  are  no  relative  pronouns,  though 
a  form  zi,  borrowed  from  Assamese,  is  sometimes  heard.  The 
place  of  the  relative  pronoun  is  usually  supplied  by  a 
participle,  e.g. — 

Mi-a  nu-nai  masa  thoi-bai. 

yesterday  seen  tiger  died  has. 

IV.   Verbs. 

1.  The  verb  substantive  is  dang-a,  is,  dang-man,  was,  za-gan, 
will  be;   this   last  being   apparently  formed   from   the   root, 
za-no,  to  become.     The  negative  forms  are 

(1)  g<5i-a  (emphatic  g5i-li-a)  and  (2)  ming-a,  it  is  not. 
A  very  useful  word  is  nang-go  (Assamese  la-ge),  to  express 
necessity,  the  negative  form  is  nang-a,  needless,  in  emphasis, 
nang-li-a,  altogether  needless.    This  root  nang  is  often  appended 
to  nouns  to  form  adjectives,  as 

Be  budhi-gnang  (or  nang). 
He  is  possessed  of  sense. 

2.  Conjugation. 

In  Kachari  the  verb  undergoes  no  change  to  express  number 
or  person,  which  are  indicated  by  the  subject  alone.  But  a 
slight  trace  of  inflexion  (euphonic)  is  perhaps  found  in  the  fact 
that  when  a  verbal  root  ends  in  a  vowel  and  the  termination 
begins  with  one,  a  disagreeable  hiatus  is  avoided  by  inserting 
the  letter  i  between  the  two,  thus  : — 

Thang-a— I  go. 
Nu-i-6 — I  see. 

Taking  the  verb,  Bu-no,  to  beat,  as  an  illustration,  the  various 
tenses,  moods,  &c.,  of  the  Kachari  verb  maybe  thus  indicated: — 

Present  indefinite,  Angbu-i-u — I  beat. 
Present  definite,  bii-dang — I  am  beating. 
Imperfect,  Ang  bu-dang-man — I  was  beating. 
Past,  bii-bai — I  beat  (did). 

Pluperfect,  /bu-dang-man_I  had  beaten  (           time         ^ 

'  \bu-nai-se 
Future,  bii-gan — I  shall  beat. 


(  P£LT*lv  I  Dli   Sl-^flill 

paulo  post),    ibii-nu^oi-1  shali  beat  ^  soon)' 
Subjunctive  moodf  •, 

Ang  bu-ba         I  If  I  ?ea,  \ 

bu-bla  1  had  beaten' 

Potential,  Ang  bu-no  h4-g6 — I  may  (or  can)  beat. 
Imperative,  1.  Bu — beat  thou.     2.  Bii-thang — let  him  beat. 
Participial  forms : — 
Bii-ni — beating. 
Bu-na-noi — having  beaten. 
Bii-nai — beaten. 
Bii-oi — while  (on)  beating. 
Agent : — 
Bu-nai-a — a  beat-er. 

3.  The   Passive   voice    is    not   very   frequently   used.      Its 
tenses,  &c.,  are  expressed  by  conjugating  the  verb  za-n5,  to 
be,  with  the  past  participle  of  the  verb,  e.g. — 

Ang  bii-nai  za-gan — I  beaten  be-shall. 

4.  The   causal  verb   is   formed   in   two   ways.      The   more 
idiomatic  method  is  to  prefix  the  letter  /  (with  any  euphonic 
vowel)  to  the  principal  verb,  e.g. — 

A        frang-dang  understand, 

°  \fa-rang-dang — I  cause  to  under- 
stand, I  teach. 

A       fsi-gan  become  wet, 

°  \fi  si-gan — I  shall  make  wet,  soak, 

In  the  above  it  will  be  observed  that  the  causal  force  lies  in 
the  letter/,  its  vowel  (always  a  very  short  one)  being  drawn  by 
attraction  (euphonic)  from  that  of  the  principal  verb. 

A  second  way  of  expressing  causation  is  to  combine  the  verb 
ho-n6,  to  give,  with  the  infinitive  mood  of  the  principal 
verb,  e.g. — 

An?  /rang-a  l  leam> 

°  \rang-n5  h(5-i-5    I  cause  to  learn,  teach. 

5.  The  distinctive  vowel  of  the  negative  verb  is  a,  which  in 


some  cases  gives  place  to  i  or  e,  probably  for  reasons  of  euphony. 
Its  chief  forms  of  tense  and  mood,  &c.,  may  be  shown  thus : — 

Present,  Bii-d — (I)  am  not  beating. 
Imperfect,  Bii-a-kh5i-man. 

Future,  Bii-a. 
Imperative. — 2  Da  bii — beat  thou  not. 

3  Da-bii-thang — let  him  not  beat. 

Subjunctive    gJJJ* 

Potential,  Bii-no  hai-a 
Participial  forms : — 
Present,  Bii-i — not  beating 

Past,  Bii-a-laba — not  having  beaten,  without  beating 
Bu-e — not  beaten. 

V.  Indeclinable  words  (a/vyaya). 

Very  little  need  be  said  on  this  part  of  the  subject,  because 
the  work  of  qualifying  words  (adverbs,  &c.,)  is  very  commonly 
done  by  means  of  infixes  following  the  verbal  stem  which  is  in 
many  cases,  though  not  in  all,  monosyllabic.  Thus  the  root 
ham  (be)  will,  becomes  (1)  an  adjective  by  prefixing  g*,  g*  ham, 
good ;  and  (2)  an  adverb,  by  affixing  oi ;  g^iam-oi  in  a  good 
manner.  So,  ham-a — bad  ;  ham-a-<5i — bad-ly.  Further  the 
adjective  thus  formed  may  be  duly  conjugated  as  a  verb  by  com- 
bining it  with  the  different  tenses,  &c.,  of  the  substantive  verb, 
thus : — 

Tham-dang  (good 

Bi     -!  ham-a-dang  he  is-j 

[(good-not-is)  (bad 


ham-gan  he  will  be-j 

hama-gan  [bad 

&c.  &c. 

In  the  same  way  the  passive  participle  in  nai  can  be  (1) 
declined  as  a  noun,  or  (2)  used  as  an  adjective,  or  (3)  take  the 
place  of  a  relative  pronoun ;  e.g. — 


1.  Zang   thoi-nai-kho   fdp-bai  —  we  (the)  dead  (man)  buried- 

2.  Mia  nu-nai  gathai-a  thoi-bai  —  (the)  yesterday-seen-girl, 

3.  Tezpur-nS   thang-nai-au    ang   bi-kho  nu-bai  —  Tezpur  to 
going-in  I  him  see-did. 

&c.  &c. 

VI.  Syntax. 

The  great  and  characteristic  feature  of  the  Syntax  of  the 
language  is  the  remarkable  way  in  which  verbal  roots,  mostly 
monosyllabic,  are  combined  together  to  form  a  very  large  and 
useful  class  of  compound  verbs.  In  this  way  the  use  of  con- 
junctions &c.  is  very  largely  avoided,  and  the  language  becomes 
possessed  of  a  vivid  force  and  picturesqueness  often  wanting  in 
more  cultivated  tongues.  These  compound  verbs  may  perhaps 
be  roughly  classified  under  two  groups,  e.g.  — 

I.  —  Those  in  which  each  verbal  root  has  a  distinct  meaning 
and  may  be  used  separately  ;  — 

II.  —  Those  in  which  one  or  more  of  the  verbal  roots  is  never 
used  separately  but  in  combination  only.     As  illustrations  of 
class  I.  the  following  may  be  mentioned  :  — 

1.  Lai-n5  —  to  bring. 
Thang-no  —  to  go 

Ha-n5  —  to  cut  (paddy,  &c.) 
2  Zap-n5  —  finish 

'  Zang  mai  ha-zap-bai  \  ,.  ,  •     ,  •     x 

We  paddy  cut-finished-have  J  ^ 

3.  Tham-n3  —  catch  ;  labo-no  —  bring  ;  gorai-kho  ham-lab6  — 
those  horses  catch  bring. 

&c.  &c. 

The  compound  verbs  of  Class  II.  are  very  numerous  and  in 
frequent  use.  A  few  illustrations  only  can  be  given  here,  which 
may  serve  to  show  that  the  second  and  subsequent  members  of 
the  agglutinative  verb,  while  they  have  no  independent 


existence,  yet  serve  to  enrich  and  expand  the  meaning  of  the 
primitive  root  in  a  very  remarkable  way. 

1.  Bai,  denotes  continuous  action. 

Bi  =  to  beg ;  bi-bai-n5  \  [begging 

Brap  =  to  be  angry;  brap-bai-no'  j-  =  to  continue-!  being  angry 
Namai  =  to  seek ;  namai-bai-n5J  [seeking 

2.  Lang  implies  completion. 

Bat  (jump)  \  /JumP  across 
Udu  (sleep)  sleep  heavily 

Thoi  (die)    I  lang  4  die  outright 
Bir  (fly)  fly  away 

Za  (eat)       J  \eat  up 

3.  Su     \ are  intensitives  greatly  strengthening  the  meaning 
ThraJ  of  the  first  verbal  root. 

On  (love)  "I       (love  much 

Ukhui  (hunger)  >su^  hunger  greatly 
Mini  (laugh)      J       [laugh  heartily 
Gai  (plant )    \          [plant  completely 
Ga-glai  (fall)  Vthrajfall  heavily 
Thoi  (die)       J  [die  outright 

In  not  a  few  cases  several,  sometimes  as  many  as  five  or  six, 
of  these  infixes  are  combined  with  the  original  verbal  stem,  each 
one  materially  contributing  to  enlarge  and  enrich  its  meaning. 
A  few  illustrations  are  here  supplied. 

1.  Dao-fra  bir-lang-thra-bai. 

The  birds  flown  completely  away-have. 

2.  Ang  bi-kho  bai-nai-tha-bai. 
I  him  continue-watching-did. 

3.  Nu-za-nai-soi-la-thang. 
See-become-watch-much-take-go,  i,e.  go  and  see  and  take 

and  observe  carefully. 

&c.  &c. 

From  what  little  has  been  here  stated  it  would  seem  to  be 
fairly  obvious  that  the  language  in  its  original  form  is  strictly 
an  agglutinative  one.  But  a  gradual  process  of  deglutinisation 
has  for  some  time  been  going  on,  no  doubt  originating  through 
intercourse  with  neighbours  speaking  languages  of  quite  another 
type,  e.g.  Assamese,  Bengali,  &c.  Most  Kacharis  (Bara)  in  this 
district  are  quite  familiar  with  Assamese ;  indeed,  it  is  very 


rarely  that  the  writer  has  met  with  men  who  did  not  know 
this  form  of  Aryan  speech.  Now  a  Kachari  in  the  habit  of 
speaking  Assamese  will,  even  when  using  his  own  mother 
tongue,  to  which  he  is  strongly  attached,  not  infrequently  resort 
to  a  partially  inflected  form  of  expression  instead  of  restricting 
himself  to  the  use  of  infixes,  &c.  This  gradual  change  in  the 
language  is  especially  brought  out  in  the  usage  of  the  participial 
forms  of  the  verb.  It  has  been  shown  above,  e.g.  that  the  past 
participle  (passive)  can  be  declined  like  a  noun.  Again,  in 
expressing  a  simple  sentence  like  the  following : — 

I  ran  and  caught  and  brought  the  horse 

an  Assamese  speaking  Kachari  would  probably  make  use  of  the 
active  participle  in  na-n6i ;  whilst  his  more  primitive  brother, 
who  might  be  less  familiar  with  Assamese,  would  confine  him- 
self to  the  more  idiomatic  use  of  infixes.  Thus  the  sentence 
given  above  might  be  expressed  in  two  ways  : 

/  -1U        fKhat-nanSi  ham-nanoil    , ,,     ,    • 

Anggorai-kho     (Khat.ham  j  lobo-bai. 

I  the  horse  (runnin^catchingjbrmg-did. 
^run-catch  J 

It  would  seem  to  be  not  improbable  that  the  language  may 
gradually  lose  its  agglutinative  character,  and  approximate  to 
the  inflected  type,  though  the  process  most  likely  will  be  but 
a  slow  one,  owing  to  the  very  clannish  temperament  of  the 
people  which  makes  them  cling  strongly  to  anything  they 
regard  as  their  very  own,  e.g.  their  language  (cf.,  a  somewhat 
similar  state  of  things  in  Wales  and  the  Scottish  Highlands). 
But  in  its  present  stage  the  language  is  one  of  no  small  interest 
to  the  student  of  comparative  philology,  because  it  is  an  apt 
illustration  of  a  form  of  speech  which,  once  strictly  agglutinative, 
is  now  in  process  of  learning  inflexion  through  the  pressure 
of  contact  with  the  speakers  of  Aryan  tongues.1 

1  The  writer  would  again  refer  the  student  to  Dr.  Grierson's  work,  part 
7-15,  where  the  whole  subject  of  the  agglutinative  verb  with  its  stem  and 
infixes,  &c.,  is  dealt  with  admirable  force,  clearness  and  knowledge  of  the 
subject.— [S.E.] 



IN  a  former  section,  something  has  been  said  in  favour  of  the 
idea  that  the  Kachari  race  is  a  much  more  widely  distributed  one 
than  was  supposed  to  be  the  case  some  years  ago ;  and  members 
of  this  race  under  different  names  still  occupy  large  areas  in 
north-eastern  India.  It  may  be  useful  to  add  a  few  brief  notes 
on  some  of  the  principal  of  these  closely  cognate  tribes,  confining 
our  notice  mainly  to  those  points  and  details  wherein  they  differ 
more  or  less  from  the  Kacharis  of  Darrang,  whose  language, 
habits,  religion,  etc.,  as  described  above,  may  perhaps  be 
provisionally  taken  as  a  standard. 

1.  Garos. — One  of  the  most  important  of  these  allied  races  is 
undoubtedly  that  known  to  us  as  the  Garos,  dwelling  in  what  is 
called  the  Garo  Hills  District.     This  tribe,  like  the  people  of  the 
North  Cachar  Hills,  has  until  recent  years  been  largely  confined 
to  the  part  of  Assam  which  bears  it  name,  and  has  not  come 
into  contact  with  Hinduism  to  any  great  extent,  and  hence  it 
has  in  all  likelihood  preserved  its  aboriginal  manners  and  customs 
almost  intact.     But  it  is  not  necessary  here  to  do  more  than 
merely  mention  the  name  of  this  interesting  people,  as  their 
whole  manner  of  life  has  been  sufficiently  dealt  with  elsewhere 
by  a  highly  competent  hand.1 

2.  Mech  (Mes).   70,000. — Nor  is  it  necessary  to  do  much  more 
for  the  people   known  as  Mech  (Mes)  who  are   undoubtedly 
merely  a  branch  (the  western  one)  of  the  Baras  of  Darrang. 
The  name  is  almost  certainly  a  corruption  of  the  Sanskrit  word 
mleccha,   i.e.,   an  outcast  from  the  Brahmin  point  of  view,   a 
non-observer  of  caste  regulations;  such  persons  being  in  the 
light  of  modern  Hinduism  very  much  what  the  barbarian  was 
to   the   Greek,  or  the   "Gentile"   to  the   Jew,  some   twenty 

1  See  The  Garos,  by  Major  A.  Playfair,  David  Nutt.     1909.— Ed. 

31  G 


centuries  ago.     This   term  mlech  (mech)  is   not   in   use   here 
(Darrang)  or  in  Kamrup. 

The  uncomplimentary  epithet  "  mlech  padre  "  has  sometimes 
been  hurled  at  the  writer  when  preaching  to  Brahmins  or 
other  high  caste  Hindus,  though  it  would  seem  to  be  the 
recognised  name  for  the  Bara  race  from  the  Manas  river  west- 
wards to  the  neighbourhood  of  Jalpaiguri.  They  would  seem 
to  be  especially  numerous  in  Goalpara  district,  where  one  of  the 
principal  landholders  is  known  as  the  "  Mech-para  zamindar." 
Some  sixteen  exogamous  septs  are  recognised  among  the 
Meches,  of  which  the  most  important  would  seem  to  be  the 


division,     following : — 

1.  Mesha-aroi — the  tiger  folk 

2.  Bansbar-aroi — bamboo  folk 

3.  Doim-aroi — water  folk 

4.  Goibar-aroi — betelnut  folk 

5.  Swarg-aroi — heaven  folk. 

Of  these  the  last-mentioned,  which  is  obviously  of  Hindu 
origin,  is  looked  upon  as  the  highest,  whilst  the  names  of  the 
remaining  four  are  apparently  of  totemistic  origin.  The  first 
on  the  list,  Mashd-arSi  (tiger  folk ;  Mashd,  tiger),  still  retains 
a  certain  hold  on  the  regard  of  the  members  of  its  sept,  all  of 
whom  go  into  a  kind  of  mourning  (see  above)  when  a  tiger 
is  found  lying  dead  near  one  of  their  villages. 

Origin.  Nothing  definite  is  known  as  to  the  origin  of  the  Meches ; 
by  some  they  are  said  to  be  descended  from  Bhim  and 
Hidamba,  whilst  others  maintain  that  they  are  the  descendants 
of  Turbasu,  son  of  Raja  Jajati,  who  fell  under  his  father's  curse, 
his  children  thus  becoming  outcasts  (Aflecchas). 

Religion.       Their  religion  is  distinctly  of  the  Animistic  type  with  a 

tendency  towards  Hinduism,  Bathau  being  replaced  by  &va 

in  some  cases.     The  siju  tree  is  regarded  with  much  reverence, 

and  is  to  be  seen  in  the  courtyard  of  most  Mech  houses,  much 

more   frequently  than   among   the    Kacharis  of   this  district. 

This  sacred  tree  is  sometimes  used  as  a  means  of  divination 

or  detecting  crime  or  other  misdoings  in  domestic  life. 

Marriage       jn  &\\  ceremonies  relating  to  marriage  and  funerals,  what  has 

funeral      been  already  said  of  the  Kacharis  holds  good  almost  word  for 

cere-         word  of  the  Meches.     But  speaking  generally  it  may  be  said 

monies,      that  the  marriage  rites  among  the  Meches  are  more  simple 

than   among  the   Kacharis,  the   essential  features  being  the 

exchange  of  betel-leaves   and  areca-nuts   between  bride  and 

bridegroom   followed   by  the   offering  of  a  cock  and   hen  in 

sacrifice  to  Bathau  or  Siva.     The  funeral  ceremonies,  on  the 



other  hand,  among  the  Meches  are  perhaps  somewhat  more 
elaborate  than  is  the  case  with  the  Kacharis  (Bara),  as  an 
informal  Shradh  has  to  be  performed  by  them,  by  the  son 
or  daughter  of  the  deceased  Mech,  seven  or  nine  or  eleven  days 
after  death,  and  sometimes  on  the  day  of  the  funeral  itself,  an 
indication  that  Hindu  customs  are  creeping  in  among  this 
portion  of  the  Bara,  race. 

The  name  of  this  tribe  (Rabhds)  is  of  uncertain  derivation  3.  RabhaB 
and  in  this  district  (Darrang)  the  people  themselves  are  some-  (70,000). 
times    called    Totlas,   which    may   perhaps    be    a    nickname. 
Another  term  used  in  designating  them  is  D&tiydl  Kachdri, 
i.e.  Borderer  Kacharis  (ddti — border,  edge,  boundary) ;  and  it  is 
held  by  some  that  their  original  home  and  habitat  was  the  Habitat, 
region   bordering   on  the  northern  slopes  of  the   Garo   Hills. 
This  supposition  is  partly  confirmed  by  the  fact  that  the  only 
words  in  their  language  to  express  (1)  north  and  (2)  south, 
respectively,  are  (1)  Bhotd  hi-chu,  Bhotan  Hills,1    and  (2)  Tura ; 
their  physical  horizon  being  apparently  absolutely  limited  by  the 
two  localities  thus  designated  ;  moreover,  Rabhas  in  somewhat 
large  numbers  are  still  to  be  found  at  the  base  of  the  northern 
slope  of  the  Garo  Hills.      Some  30,000  have  their  home   in 
Goalpara  district,  whilst  others  are  located  in  Kamrup,  north- 
west Darrang,  and  among  the  Garos  in  their  hills.     Their  origin  Origin 
is  but  imperfectly  known,  but  they  are  said  to  be  descended  from  (tradi- 
a  Hindu  father  who  lost  caste  by  marrying  a  Kachari  woman. 
Their  language,  which  would  seem  to  be  rapidly  dying  out,  Lan- 
forms  a  very  interesting  link  between  Garo  and  Kachari,  having  SuaSe- 
much  in  common  with  both,  but  with  some  special  features 
peculiar  to  itself.     Like  the  tongue  of  other  branches  of  the 
Bara  race,   the    Rabha   language,   at   one   time    undoubtedly 
agglutinative,  seems  to  be  in  process  of  becoming  inflexional, 
through  contact  and  intercourse  with  the  speakers  of  more 
or    less    broken-down    Sanskritic     languages,    e.g.,    Bengali, 
Assamese,  etc.      Some   seven  sub-tribes  are   said  to  be  still  Sub- 
recognised   among   the    Rabhas,   i.e.,   Rangdaniya,   Maitariya, dlvisions- 
P4ti-Koch,  Bitliya-,  Dahuriya,  and  Sangha.     The  members  of 
the  three  sub-tribes  first  in  this  list  occupy  a  position  of  some 
eminence  above  the  others,  and  are  at  liberty  to  intermarry 
among  themselves.     They  are,  however,  so  far  "  hypergamous  " 
that  if  any  one  of  their  members  should  marry  into  any  of  the 
last  four  sub-tribes,  the  person  so  marrying  would  have  to  pay 
a  fine  of  Rs.  100,  or  upwards,  to  the  members  of  the  lower 
sub-tribe   concerned.      As   regards   caste-position   and  status, 
the  Rabhas  hold  themselves  to  be  slightly  higher  than  the  pure  status. 
1  Hi-chu>  i.e.,  hi  earth,  chi  high  :  rf.  Kachari  hd-jo,  i.e.,  Ad  earth,  gnjo,  high. 

G  2 


Kacharis,  e.g.,  the  Rabh£  will  not  eat  rice  cooked  by  a  Kachari, 
though  the  latter  freely  partakes  of  food  prepared  by  a  Rabha. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  Rabha  eats  and  drinks  quite  as  freely 
as  does  the  Kachari,  and  intermarriage  between  the  two 
branches  of  the  race  is  not  very  uncommon,  a  young  Kachari 
bridegroom  selecting  a  Rabha  bride  having  to  make  his  peace 
with  her  people  by  giving  them  a  feast  and  paying  a  bride-price 
(gd-dhan)  on  a  somewhat  enhanced  scale.  The  children  born 
of  such  a  "  mixed  marriage "  belong  to  the  father's  tribe. 
Kacharis  sometimes  formally  enter  the  Rabha  community, 
though  it  is  not  necessary  for  them  to  do  so,  on  their  way  to 
Hinduism.  A  Kachari  wishing  to  be  received  into  the  Rabha 
sub-tribe  has  to  pass  through  a  somewhat  elaborate  initiation, 
which  may  be  briefly  summarised  as  follows : — 

"  A  deori  (Priest)  divides  a  pig  into  seven  pieces  in  front 
of  the  convert's  door,  and  disposes  of  them  by  throwing 
away  one  such  piece  towards  each  of  the  four  cardinal 
points ;  while  of  the  remaining  three  pieces  one  is  thrown  sky- 
wards, a  second  earthwards,  and  the  last  Patalwards.1  At  the 
same  place  he  then  proceeds  to  cook  a  fowl  and  prepares  there- 
from a  curry,  which  he  divides  into  seven  equal  parts ;  and 
arranging  these  portions  on  the  ground  he  leaves  them  there, 
after  sprinkling  them  with  pad-jal.2  This  part  of  the  ceremonial 
is  known  as  cliilddhar,  or  bdodhar  Jcatd,  i.e.,  forms  of  making 
prdya£-chitta  (reconciliation).  The  deori  then  lays  down  a 
plantain-leaf  on  the  courtyard  and  places  on  it  a  lighted  lamp, 
a  handful  of  rice,  a  betel-leaf,  and  an  areca-nut,  together  with 
some  tulasi  leaves  and  a  few  copper  coins.  The  convert  is  then 
made  to  drink  pad-jal  in  public,  and  after  this  he  must  pay  at 
least  one  rupee  to  the  assembled  people,  and  treat  them  to  two 
vessels  full  of  rice-beer  (mddli).  He  is  further  required  to 
entertain  liberally  the  members  of  his  newly-acquired  brother- 
hood for  three  successive  evenings,  pork  and  mddh  forming  the 
principal  materials  of  the  feast." 

Very  little  need  be  said  under  the  head  of  religion ;  for  in 
this  respect  they  are  but  little  separated  from  the  closely- 
cognated  Kachari  (Bara)  race.  The  general  type  of  the  Rabha 
religion  13  distinctly  animistic ;  but  one  or  two  of  the  higher 
subdivisions,  especially  the  Patis,  are  said  to  show  a  leaning 

1  "Fatal,"  one  of  the  seven  regions  which  Hindus  believe  to  exist  under 
the  earth. 

2  Pad-jal,  t.  e. ,  pad  a  f oot,  and  jal  water,  "  foot- water  ";  water  in  which 
a  Gosain  has  dipped  his  foot,  or  (at  least)  his  great  toe,  and  which  is  there- 
fore looked  upon  as  sacred.     It  is  otherwise  known  as  charandmrita,  i.e., 
charan  foot,  and  dmrita,  umtal  ambrosia. 


towards  Hinduism  of  the  Sakta  form,  the  deity  chiefly  wor- 
shipped being  known  as  Bhalli  (?  Bhareli),  to  whom  puja  is  done 
in  Kartik,  Magh  and  Baisakh.  There  are  no  temples  or  fixed 
places  of  worship,  nor  are  Brahmins  employed  ;  the  deori  (deosi) 
doing  all  that  is  deemed  necessary  in  public  religious  ceremonies. 

Marriage  is  almost  invariably  adult,  and  is  usually  entered  into  Relations 
by  payment  to  the  bride's  parents,  or  by  servitude  as  among  of  the 
the  Kacharis.  Cases  of  ante-nuptial  unchastity  would  seem  to  8e 
be  rare  ;  but  when  an  unmarried  girl  does  become  pregnant,  she 
is  compelled  to  disclose  the  name  of  her  lover,  often  through 
thes  i/w-ordeal  process  (see  above),  and  public  opinion  forces 
the  seducer  to  marry  his  victim,  paying  a  somewhat  higher 
bride-price  (gd-dhan)  than  he  would  otherwise  have  done. 
Monogamy  is  the  rule  in  marriage,  but  public  opinion  permits 
the  taking  of  a  second  wife  when  the  first  proves  childless. 
Divorce  is  permitted  for  adultery,  but  would  seem  to  be  com- 
paratively rare :  widows  are  at  liberty  to  marry  whomsoever 
they  will,  except  the  deceased  husband's  elder  brother,  a  second 
bride-price  being  sometimes  paid  to  the  bride's  parents.  The 
marriage  ceremony  itself  is  very  simple,  the  essential  features 
•being  (1)  the  exchange  of  betel-leaves  and  areca-nuts  by  bride 
and  bridegroom,  and  (2)  the  formal  sacrifice  of  a  cock  and  hen, 
the  latter  being  made  into  a  curry  of  which  bride  and  bride- 
groom partake  together.  The  dead  are  disposed  of  generally 
by  cremation,  though  in  cases  of  destructive  epidemics,  e.g., 
cholera,  kala-azar,  etc.,  known  as  "  sirkdri  rog,"  the  bodies  of 
deceased  people  are  either  hastily  buried,  or  simply  thrown  into 
the  neighbouring  jungle.1 

About  the  small  tribe  (8,000  souls)  known  as  Hajongs  or  4.  Ha- 
Haijongs  only  very  little  definite  information  can  at  present  be  |?nM3~ 
obtained ;  but  it  seems  probable  on  the  whole  that  they  are  a  (8*ooO)f  *' 
branch  of  the  widely  spread  Bara  race.     The  tribal  name  is  of 
uncertain  derivation,  but  it  is  not  unlikely  that  it  is  connected 
with  the  Kachari  word  for  mountain  or  hill  (ha-jo) ;  and  this 
supposition  receives,  perhaps,  some  little  confirmation  from  their 
present  known  habitat,  i.e.,  the  southern  slope  of  the  Garo  Hills, 
and  the  sub-montane  tract  immediately  adjoining  it.     It   is 
possible  that  these  people  may  be  the  modern  representatives 
of  the  inhabitants  of  the  old  kingdom  of  Koch  Hajo,  which 
corresponds  roughly  with  the  present  district  of  Goalpara.     It 
is  known  that  during  the  period  1600-1700  this  part  of  the 
country  was  overrun  by  Musalman   invaders,  when   many  of 
the    inhabitants    probably    took    refuge    in   the   Garo    Hills, 

1  For  other  information  about  Garos,  see  Garo  Monograph,  pp.  17,   19,  21. 


returning  therefrom,  and  settling  in  the  adjoining  plains  at  the 
foot  of  these  hills,  when  the  pax  Britannica  gave  them  a 
certain  amount  of  security  for  life  and  property.  In  appearance 
and  dress  the  people  are  said  to  have  a  close  resemblance  to  the 
well-known  Kachari  type,  but  this  resemblance  hardly  holds 
good  of  their  language  as  now  spoken,  for  this  is  little  more 
than  a  medley  of  Assamese  and  Bengali. 

Religion.  There  are  said  to  be  two  recognised  subdivisions  among  them, 
i.e.,  (1)  Byabcharis  and  (2)  Paramarthis.  The  latter  are  largely 
Hinduized  (Vaishnabs)  and  abstain  from  pork  and  liquor,  etc. ; 
whilst  the  former,  who  are  Saktas  to  a  large  extent,  follow  the 
practice  of  their  Garo  neighbours  in  matters  of  diet,  etc.  In 
spite,  however,  of  this  distinction  of  meats,  it  is  said  that 
members  of  the  two  sections  of  the  tribe  freely  intermarry  with 
each  other.  No  Brahmins  seem  to  be  employed  among  them, 
any  leading  member  (adhikari)  of  the  village  panchdyat  doing 
what  is  customary  at  all  marriages,  etc.  It  may  be  added  that 
the  siju  tree  (euphorbia  splendens)  which  occupies  so  important 
a  place  in  the  social  and  religious  life  of  the  Bara,  Meches,  etc., 
on  the  north  of  the  Brahmaputra  does  not  seem  to  enjoy  any 
special  regard  or  respect  among  the  cognate  tribes  (Haijangs, 
Dimasa  etc.)  who  have  their  homes  on  the  south  and  east  of 
that  great  river. 

Relations  As  among  other  members  of  the  Bara  race,  the  relations  of 
of  the  t^  sexes  are  on  the  whole  sound  and  wholesome ;  ante-nuptial 
marriage,  unchastity  is  but  of  rare  occurrence,  but  when  it  does  take  place 
&c.  '  and  pregnancy  follows,  the  seducer  is  compelled  to  marry  the 
girl,  and  to  pay  a  certain  fine  of  no  great  amount  to  the  village 
elders.  This  form  of  union  is  known  as  a  dai-mard  marriage. 
But  generally,  as  among  the  Kacharis  of  Darrang,  the  parents 
of  bride  and  bridegroom  arrange  for  the  marriage  of  the  young 
people,  which  always  includes  the  payment  of  a  bride-price 
(pdn)  of  from  20  to  100  rupees  to  the  bride's  parents,  or  the 
equivalent  in  personal  service.  It  is  said  that  among  the 
"  Paramarthi "  subdivision,  who  are  largely  Hinduized,  the 
betrothal  of  children  is  coming  into  vogue,  but  as  a  rule 
marriage  is  still  adult,  and  for  the  most  part  monogamous.  A 
second  wife  is  allowed  when  the  first  proves  to  be  childless,  but 
polyandry  is  quite  unknown.  Divorce  is  permitted  for  adultery 
but  is  very  rare,  and  under  no  circumstances  can  a  woman  be 
divorced  when  in  a  state  of  pregnancy.  The  divorce  itself  is 
effected  in  the  usual  way  by  the  husband  and  wife  tearing  a 
betel-leaf  in  the  presence  of  the  village  elders,  and  formally 
addressing  each  other  as  father  and  mother,  showing  that  the 
relation  of  husband  and  wife  has  ceased.  Widows  can  marry 


again,  and  do  so  freely,  the  one  restriction  being  that  no  widow 
can  marry  her  deceased  husband's  brother,  whether  older  or 
younger  than  her  first  partner.  Here  again,  too,  it  would  seem 
that  Hindu  influence  is  making  itself  felt,  for  it  is  said  that  the 
remarriage  of  widows  is  looked  upon  with  growing  disfavour. 
Property,  both  movable  and  immovable,  is  usually  divided 
equally  among  the  sons  of  a  family  (cf.  the  old  Saxon  law  of 
"  gavelkind "),  anything  like  primogeniture  being  unknown. 
In  a  formal  marriage  among  well-to-do  people  a  certain 
ceremonial  is  observed.  A  square  enclosure  is  formed  by  plant- 
ing a  plantain-tree  at  each  corner,  and  within  this  enclosure  are 
placed  sixteen  lighted  lamps,  and  sixteen  earthenware  pots  full 
of  water,  the  bridegroom  taking  his  stand  in  their  midst.  The 
bride  then  formally  walks  around  him  seven  times,  and  then 
finally  takes  a  seat  at  his  left  side,  her  face  being  turned  towards 
the  east.  No  mantras,  etc.,  are  recited,  nor  is  any  Brahmin 
present ;  but  some  village  elder  (adhikari)  sprinkles  water  over 
the  couple  from  one  of  the  water  pots,  and  the  ceremony  is  held 
to  be  complete. 

The  bodies  of  the  dead  are  occasionally  buried  or  committed  Disposal 
to  the  jungle,  but  this  is  done  but  rarely,  probably  only  under  of  dead- 
the  pressure  of  panic  during  an  epidemic  of  cholera,  etc.     Crem- 
ation is  almost  universal,  the  head  of  the  deceased  being  placed 
towards  the  north,  the  face  looking  upwards  in  the  case  of  a 
man,  and  downwards  in  that  of  a  woman.     A  Sraddha  usually 
follows   either   on  the  tenth,  or  the  thirtieth,  day  after  the 

Not  much  is  definitely  known  about  this  small  tribe,  whose  5.  Morans 
numbers  do  not  exceed  6,000  in  all ;  but  although  they  are  said  (f'^0 
to   repudiate  all  connection   with  the  BarS,  race,   it  may   be  tic,  100 ; 
safely  inferred  that  they  do  in  reality  belong  to  it ;  for  on  this  Hindu- 
point  the  evidence  of  language  is  fairly  conclusive.1     They  are  lz^ 
sometimes  known  as  (1)  Moran  Kacharis  and  (2)  Kapahiyas   ' 
(kapdh — cotton),  the  latter  name  being  due  to  the  fact  that  in 
early  days  one  of  their  chief  duties  was  to  grow  cotton  for  the 
use  of  Ahom  princesses,  at  Kakatal,  Moriani,  Jhanzi,  Hologapar, 
etc.     Their  present  habitat  may  be  roughly  described  as  the  Habitat, 
country  lying  between  the  Buri  Dihing  and  the  Brahmaputra 
in  the  north-eastern  part  of  the  Province  at  least  one-half  of 
their  number  being  located  in  the  district  of  Lakhimpur,  and 
the  remainder  in  the  adjoining  portions  of  the  Sibsagar  district. 
Their  chief  centre  is  said  to  be  a  place  known  as  Kakatal,  the 
residence  of  the  Tiphuk  Gosain,  the  head  of  the  Matak  clan, 

1  See  paper  by  Major  P.  R.  T.   Gurdon,   in  Journal  of  A.    S.   B.,   Vol. 
LXXIIL,  Part  I,  No.  1,  1904. 



with  the  members  of  which  the  Morans  are  said  to  fraternize 
and  even  to  intermarry  freely. 

The  original  home  of  the  Morans  is  said  to  have  been  at 
Mongkong  (Maingkhwang)  in  the  Hukong  Valley  at  the  upper 
reaches  of  the  Chindwin  river,  where  some  centuries  ago 
resided  three  brothers  Moylang,  Moran,  and  Moyran.  Of  these, 
Moylang,  the  eldest,  remained  in  the  Hukong  Valley,  whilst  the 
youngest,  Moyran,  migrated  into  Nipal,  and  was  there  lost  sight 
of;  and  Moran,  the  second  brother,  passed  the  Patkoi  range 
into  Assam  and,  settling  on  the  Tiphuk  river,  became  the 
ancestor  of  or  at  least  gave  its  present  name  to  the  Moran  tribe. 
But  however  this  may  be,  it  is  fairly  certain  that,  when  the 
Ahoms  passed  into  Assam  about  the  middle  of  the  thirteenth 
century,  they  at  once  came  into  conflict  with  the  Morans,  whom 
they  seem  to  have  subdued  with  but  little  difficulty.  By  their 
Ahom  conquerors  the  Morans  were  employed  in  various  menial 
capacities,  as  hewers  of  wood  and  drawers  of  water,  and  were 
sometimes  known  as  Habungiyas,1  earth-folk,  or  true  autoch- 
thones, "  sons  of  the  soil,"  though  they  seem  to  have  inter- 
married freely  with  their  Ahom  rulers.  But  in  spite  of  their 
subordinate  position  in  political  life  the  Morans,  like  other 
branches  of  the  Bar&  race,  have  sturdily  maintained  some  of 
their  national  characteristics  to  this  day,  e.g.,  their  language, 
though  apparently  doomed  to  early  extinction;  is  still  to  some 
extent  retained  by  members  of  the  clan. 

In   the   census  of  1891  only  100  Morans  are  returned  as 

Religion,  animistic,  the  great  bulk  of  them  being  described  as  Hindus  of 
the  Vaishnab  type.  Their  Hinduism,  however,  would  seem  to 

Vaishnab.  be  of  a  somewhat  lax  character ;  for  though  they  do  not  eat 
beef,  pork,  or  monkeys,  or  drink  madh  and  photika,  yet  they 
freely  partake  of  all  kinds  of  poultry  and  fish,  with  the  tortoise, 
grasshopper,  etc.  No  social  stigma,  too,  attaches  to  the  catching 
and  selling  of  fish  to  others.  No  idols  are  to  be  seen  in  their 
villages,  nor  are  Brahmins  ever  employed  in  religious  cere- 
monials, certain  officials  known  as  Medhis  and  Bhakats  doing  all 
that  is  deemed  necessary  on  these  occasions.  On  certain  great 
social  gatherings  known  as  Sabha  (Sarmij),  which  are  apparently 
not  held  at  any  fixed  periods,  there  is  much  singing,  beating  of 
drums  (Mridang)  and  cymbals  (tal)  in  honour  of  Krishna,  to 
whom  offerings  of  rice,  salt,  plantains,  betel-nuts,  are  freely 
made.  In  earlier  times  it  is  said  that  there  were  three  chief 
centres  (satras)  of  the  religious  life  of  the  Morans ;  each 

1  Hdbung-iyd,  perhaps  from  hd  earth,  bung  for  su-bung  men  ;  hence  lia- 
Imng-iya,  autochthones,  adscripti  glebtx,  something  like  the  serfs  of  the  old 
feudal  system  in  Europe. 


presided  over  by  an  elder  known  as  the  bura  or  dangariya. 
These  were  the  (1)  Dinja  (Kachari  bura),  (2)  Garpara  (Ahom 
bura),  and  (3)  Puranimati  (Khatwal  bura).  These  dangariyas 
are  said  still  to  retain  a  position  of  some  spiritual  influence 
among  the  Morans,  all  religious  teaching  being  in  their 
hands.  Each  family  may  freely  choose  its  own  dangariyas, 
but  followers  of  one  dangariya  will  not  eat  food  cooked  by 
those  of  another,  even  when  the  worshippers  are  closely 
connected  with  each  other  by  family  ties,  as  father,  son, 
brother,  etc. 

Infant  betrothals  would  seem  to  be  absolutely  unknown,  all  Mar- 
marriages  being  restricted  to  adults,  as  a  rule  monogamous,  naSes» 
though  a  second  wife  may  be  taken  when  the  first  proves 
childless.  Occasionally  the  bridegroom  carries  off  his  bride  by 
force,  especially  during  the  April  Bihu,  the  union  formed  in  this 
way  being  afterwards  recognised  by  the  girl's  parents.  Some- 
times the  bride  goes  to  her  lover's  house  of  her  own  free  will, 
without  payment  of  the  usual  bride-price  (pan).  But  as  a  rule 
as  among  other  portions  of  the  Bara  race,  matrimonial  engage- 
ments are  entered  into  after  negotiations  between  the  parents 
of  the  persons  concerned.  The  essential  elements  of  a  marriage 
in  this  case  are  (1)  the  payment  of  a  bride-price  (pan)  of  some 
Bs20-100  to  the  girl's  parents,  and  (2)  the  giving  of  a  feast  at 
the  bridegroom's  expense  to  the  parents,  relatives,  and  friends  of 
the  bride.  The  marriage  ceremony  is  always  non-Shfistric,  nor 
are  Brahmins  present,  a  Bhakat  or  dangariya  doing  all  that  is 
deemed  necessary.  The  ceremony  itself  may  perhaps  be 
described  as  "  semi-chacklang,"  some,  though  not  all,  of  the 
rites  practised  among  the  Ahoms  at  what  is  called  a  chaklang 
marriage  being  frequently  carried  out. 

Divorce  is  permitted  occasionally,  but  only  when  the  wife  is  Divorce, 
guilty  of  adultery  with  a  man  of  lower  caste-standing  than  her 
own.  In  these  cases  the  husband  brings  back  the  erring  wife 
to  her  father's  house  with  some  betel-nuts  and  one  rupee  in  an 
earthenware  sardi;  the  father  receives  her  and  gives  back  a 
portion  of  the  betel-nuts  to  the  husband,  and  the  woman  is  at 
once  free  to  marry  again.  Widows  are  at  liberty  to  remarry, 
but  not  with  the  deceased  husband's  brother ;  but  little  or  on 
ceremonial  is  observed  at  such  a  remarriage,  a  widow  taking  a 
substantially  lower  position  than  a  virgin  bride. 

The  dead  are  usually  disposed  of  by  burial,  but  the  bodies  of  Disposal 
old  Bhakats  are  sometimes  cremated,  the  ashes  being  afterwards  of  dead, 
buried  under  a  high  earth  mound  known  as  a  "  moidam."     On 
the  third  day  after  death  takes  place  the  ceremony  known  as 
telani,  when  the  near  relatives  are  anointed  with  mustard  seed 


oil  (tel).  This  is  followed  ten  days  later  by  the  dahd,1  when 
offerings  of  rice,  salt,  betel-nuts,  etc.,  are  offered  by  the  relatives, 
and  finally,  after  an  interval  of  twenty  days,  the  dahd  kdj  is 
celebrated,  when  a  general  feast  takes  place  both  day  and  night. 
These  observances  have  perhaps  more  in  common  with  funeral 
wakes  than  with  what  is  known  among  Hindus  as  a  shraddha ; 
no  Brahmins  are  present. 

This  once  very  powerful  race,  which  still  numbers  almost 
90,000  souls,  has  its  chief  home  and  habitat  in  the  districts  of 
Lakhimpur  and  Sibsagar,  though  a  not  inconsiderable  number 
are  found  in  the  Darrang  district  (Mangaldai  subdivision). 
Their  general  appearance  and  physical  and  mental  character- 
istics prove  clearly  that  they  belong  to  the  widely  spread  Banl 
race,  and  this  view  is  borne  out  by  the  language  still  spoken  to 
some  extent  by  one  of  the  subdivisions  of  the  race  (the  Deoris), 
which  has  very  much  in  common  with  the  Kachari  of  Darrang, 
and  still  more  with  the  speech  of  the  people  (Dimasa)  of  the 
north  Kachar  Hills. 

Tradi-  Their  origin  is  far  from  being  clearly  known.     According  to 

tional  one  tradition — probably  the  outcome  of  Hindu  imaginativeness 
history0  — they  claim  to  be  descendants  of  Khetrias  who  fled  into  Assam 
for  refuge  from  the  destroying  arm  of  Parasu-Ram  (battle-axe 
Ram).  But  according  to  a  tradition  embodied  in  an  old  Assamese 
chronicle  of  uncertain  date,  the  founder  of  the  Chutiya 
kingdom,  for  some  200  years  a  very  powerful  one,  was  one 
Bihar  (?  Virapala),  who  is  said  to  have  had  his  home  on  "  Golden 
Hill"  (Suvarna-giri)  in  the  mountains  to  the  north  of  the 
modern  Sadiya,  which  place  was  for  a  lengthened  period  the 
centre  of  Chutiya  power,  before  the  advent  of  the  Ahoms  in  the 
15th  century.  It  is  said  that  Kuvera  (the  Hindu  Pluto) 
appeared  to  this  Bihar,  who  was  simply  an  ordinary  peasant, 
and  urged  him  to  be  reconciled  to  his  wife  (Rupavati),  with 
whom  he  had  quarrelled,  as  she  was  about  to  present  him  with 
a  son  who  should  make  a  name  in  history.  Moreover,  he  was 
directed  to  make  search  under  a  certain  tree  where  he  would 
find  a  shield,  a  sword,  and  a  spear ;  and  underneath  the  shield 
a  golden  cat,  which  latter  he  was  to  preserve  with  the  utmost 
care,  as  it  was  to  be  the  talisman  of  his  family's  fortunes. 
Kuvera's  instructions  were  duly  carried  out  by  Bihar,  to  whom  a 
son  was  born,  named  Ratnadhwaj,  who  through  force  of 
character  established  his  influence  in  the  mountains ;  and  then 
descending  to  the  plains  established  a  powerful  kingdom  at  Sadiya 
which  maintained  itself  there  for  over  two  centuries,  when  it  fell 
before  the  rapidly  growing  influence  of  the  warlike  Ahoms.  In 
1  I.e.,  daSd,  the  tenth. — Ed. 


order  finally  to  break  up  the  power  of  the  Chutiyas  their  Ahom 
conquerors  are  said  to  have  distributed  the  subjugated  race  over 
Assam  and  north-east  Bengal.  One  not  inconsiderable  portion 
of  the  Mangaldai  subdivision  is  still  known  as  Chutiya  des; 
otherwise  Kaupati.  To  this  Machiavellian  policy  of  the  Ahom 
rulers  is  perhaps  due  the  present  widely  scattered  condition  of 
the  once  powerful  Kachari  race. 

There  are  four  subdivisions  of  the  Chutiya  race  still  recog-  Sub- 
nised,  viz. :  divisions 


1.  Hindu  Chutiya. 

2.  Ahom  Chutiya. 

3.  Deori  Chutiya — the  Levite  or  priestly  clan. 

4.  Barahi  Chutiya — the  pig-eating  clan. 

Each  of  these  subdivisions  is  said  to  have  been  in  early  days 
endogamous,  though  this  is  hardly  so  now,  for  members  of  the 
two  upper  clans  can  intermarry,  and  the  same  statement  holds 
good  of  the  two  lower  (Deori  and  Barahi) ;  but  outside  these 
limits  marriage  is  said  to  be  prohibited.  The  Hindu  and  Ahom 
Chutiyas  have  very  largely  adopted  Hinduism  of  the  Vaishnava 
type ;  but  it  is  said  that  occasionally  they  indulge  in  secluded 
midnight  revels  known  as  "  rati  sod,  khoa,"  at  which  almost  all 
kinds  of  food  (beef  alone  excepted)  are  very  freely  consumed. 
The  Deoris  and  Barahis,  however,  still  follow  largely  certain 
animistic  rites ;  so  far  as  they  have  adopted  Hinduism  at  all,  it 
would  seem  to  be  of  a  depraved  type,  Tantric  rather  than 

By  far  the  most  interesting,  because  the  most  primitive,  The 
characteristic  of  the  four  subdivisions  of  the  Chutiya  race 
mentioned  above,  is  that  which  holds  the  third  place  in  the  list ; 
i.e.,  the  Deoris.  It  has  been  stated  before  more  than  once  that 
this  term  Deoris  is  thus  used  to  designate  the  recognised 
ministers  of  religion  throughout  the  Bara  race ;  and  this  points 
to  the  fact  that  they  are  essentially  what  indeed  their  tribal 
name  implies,  a  Levite  or  priestly  body,  and  one  in  earlier  days 
possessed  of  large  influence  which  even  yet  has  not  been  wholly 
lost.  In  point  of  mere  numbers  they  are  certainly  not  a 
powerful  body,  somewhat  less  than  4,000  all  told.  Their  chief 
habitat  is  on  and  near  the  Dikrang  river  some  thirty  miles  west 
of  the  subdivisional  station  of  North  Lakhimpur,  while  other 
villages  may  be  found  in  the  Majuli,  the  "Holy  Land"  of  the 
modern  (Hindu)  Assamese,  where  they  would  seem  to  lead  a 
very  simple  primitive  life.  A  Deori  Chutiya  village  has  been 
well  described  as  follows. 

"  It  consists  of  some  thirty  houses  built  on  bamboo  platforms 


raised  about  five  feet  from  the  ground.  A  single  house  will 
often  contain  a  family  of  forty  persons,  living  in  one  great  room 
without  any  compartments,  though  with  separate  fireplaces, 
with  a  verandah  in  front  where  visitors  are  entertained.  The 
villagers  are  a  tall,  large,  well-nourished  folk,  with  features 
bearing  a  strong  resemblance  to  that  of  the  Kacharis.  They 
drink  strong  liquor  (home-made)  and  eat  all  kinds  of  flesh 
except  beef." 

There  are  two  things  which  give  a  certain  interest  and 
importance  to  the  Deoris  in  spite  of  the  paucity  of  their 
numbers,  i.e.,  (1)  their  language  and  (2)  their  religion  Like 
other  members  of  the  widely  spread  Bara  race,  the  Deoris  are 
bilingual,  speaking  both  Assamese  and  their  own  tongue,  but 
giving  a  distinct  preference  to  the  latter,  of  which  they  are  said 
to  be  not  a  little  proud.1  The  language  itself  is  obviously  very 
closely  allied  to  that  of  the  Kacharis  of  Darrang  and  still  more 
so  to  the  speech  of  the  people  of  the  North  Kachar  Hills 
(Dimasa),  who,  being  more  isolated  from  the  plains  than  are  the 
Kacharis,  have  no  doubt  preserved  their  mother  tongue  very 
largely  in  its  primitive  form.  In  all  likelihood  the  language  of 
the  Deori  Chutiyas  gives  us  the  purest  and  most  archaic  form  of 
the  Bar&  speech,  and  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  in  earlier 
times  it  was  the  dominant  language  of  Eastern  Assam. 

The  religion  of  the  Deori  Chutiyas  is  still  largely  animistic. 
There  are  a  number  of  domestic  gods,  who  hold  a  prominent 
place  in  family  worship,  and  puja  is  often  performed  under  big 
trees  and  by  the  side  of  rivers,  as  among  the  Darrang  Kacharis. 
The  Brahmaputra  is  held  in  special  reverence  and  is  spoken  of 
as  the  mother  of  water  (ji  chima,  or  chima  jima)  much  as  the 
Darrang  Kacharis  regard  this  huge  volume  of  water  as  "  Mater 
magna  "  (Hodgson). 

Unlike  the  western  Kacharis,  however,  the  Deori  Chutiyas 
pay  no  special  regard  to  the  'siju'  tree  (Euphorbia  splendens), 
a  peculiarity  which  they  share  with  the  Dimasa,  Lalungs, 
Garos,2  and  other  members  of  the  Bara  family  who  have  their 
home  mostly  on  the  south  of  the  great  river.  They  have  four 
great  annual  festivals,  two  of  which  correspond  in  some  respects 
to  the  Assamese  Magh  and  Baisak  Bihu,  though  not  held 
exactly  on  the  same  dates.  They  have  a  great  reputation 

1  See  Outline  Grammar  of  the  Deori  Chutiya  Language,  by  W.  B.   Brown, 
B.A.,  I.C.S.,  Shillong,  Assam  Secretariat  Press,  a  scholarly  work  to  which 
the  writer  gladly  takes   this  opportunity  of  acknowledging  his  manifold 

2  But  the  Garos  plant  either  a  mandal  tree  or  a  Euphorbia  cactus  near 
their   Kosi  or  sacrificial  stones,   hence  recognising  the  sacred  character  of 
the  aij 'i  tree  (see  Gdro  Monograph,  p.  97). — Ed. 


as  wizards,  etc.,  and  are  supposed  to  have  the  power  of  causing 
their  enemies  to  die  mysteriously  of  slow  occult  wasting 
diseases,  and  in  this  way  they  are  often  consulted  by  their 
neighbours  in  cases  of  loss  of  cattle  or  undetected  robberies. 
There  would  seem  to  be  three  principal  gods : — 

(1)  Girasi-gira  (Bura-buri),  i.e.,  "  the  old  ones,"  always  spoken 
of  as  a  wedded  pair  (cf.  the  "  Bathau  and  the  Mainau  "  of  the 
Darrang  Kacharis  and  the  "  Warang-Berang,"  '  the  old  one '  of 
Hodgson's   Dhimals) ;    they  are  specially  worshipped   by   the 
Dibongid  khel,  and  their  original  temple  was  on  the  Kundil 
river,  a  little  east  of  Sadiya. 

(2)  Pisha-dema  (Bohza-hemata),  "  the  elder  son  "  worshipped 
by  the  Tenga  paniya  khel.     His  temple  stood  on  Tengapani 

(3)  Pisha-si,  "  the  daughter,"  known  as  (1)  Tameshwari  mai, 
the  "  mother  of  the  copper  temple,"  and  (2)  Kecha-khati,  the 
"  raw-flesh  eater,"  to  whom  human  sacrifices  were  offered.     She 
was  worshipped   by  the   Bargaya  (Borgoniya)   khel   and   her 
temple  stood  somewhere  near  "  Chunpura  "  ('  lime-kiln ')  on  the 
Brahmaputra  a  few  miles  east  of  Sadiya. 

In  addition  to  these  a  fourth  khel,  Patorgiya,  is  said  to  have 
once  existed,  but  its  status  was  inferior  to  those  of  the  other 
three,  and  it  has  consequently  become  extinct.  To  each  of 
these  khels  and  temples  four  priests  (pujaris)  were  attached,  i.e., 
(1)  a  Bor  Deori  (Deori  Dima)  and  (2)  a  Saru  Deori  (Deori 
Sarbd) ;  and  (3)  a  Bor  Bharali,  and  (4)  a  Saru  Bharali.1  It  is 
the  former  two  (the  Deoris),  who  alone  perform  the  sacrifice, 
enter  the  temple  and  sing  hymns,  etc.,  which  are  hardly  now 
understood  by  the  laity.  The  office  of  the  Bharalis  was  an  inferior 
one ;  it  was  their  duty  to  collect  all  temple-offerings  and  to 
provide  animals  for  sacrifice.  They  are  also  privileged  to  hold 
the  head  of  the  victim,  which  is  nowadays  usually  a  goat.  As 
a  rule  no  images,  etc.,  are  to  be  seen  in  the  temples,  though 
such  images  would  seem  to  be  provided  from  time  to  time  as 
needed  for  purposes  of  public  worship. 

Of  the  Deori  temples  mentioned  above  the  oldest  and  most  Human 
noteworthy  is  undoubtedly  that  known  as  the  "  Tamar  ghar  "  or  sacrifices 
copper  temple,  at  Chunpura,  the  ruins  of  which  are,  it  is  said, 
still  to  be  seen  some  miles  east  of  Sadiya.     It  is  described  as  a 
small  stone  building  nearly  square,  built  without  cement,  the 
stones  joined  by  iron  pins,  not  clamped.     The  roof,  now  fallen 
in,  was  of  copper ;  hence  the  temple's  name.  The  interior  is  eight 
feet  square  ;  and  the  whole  is  enclosed  by  a  brick  wall  130  feet 
by  200.     Near  the  grand  entrance  in  the  western  wall  is  a 

1  .fiar  =  big,  saru  =  small. — Ed. 


small  stone  tripod.  Here  from  a  period  unknown  down  to  a 
comparatively  recent  date  human  sacrifices  were  offered  year  by 
year.  It  is  said  that  latterly  the  Ahom  kings  gave  up  for  this 
purpose  malefactors  who  had  been  sentenced  to  capital  punish- 
ment ;  but  as  suitable  victims  of  this  type  were  not  always  forth- 
coming, a  certain  special  tribe  (khel)  of  the  king's  subjects  were 
held  bound  to  provide  one  and  in  return  the  members  of  this 
tribe  were  entitled  to  certain  privileges,  e.g.,  exemption  from 
payment  of  ferry  dues  and  market  tolls,  etc.  It  was  necessary  in 
all  cases  that  the  victims  should  be  of  high  caste  and  "  without 
blemish," l  the  slightest  mutilation,  even  the  boring  of  an  ear, 
rendering  them  unfit  to  be  offered. 

All  Brahmins  and  members  of  the  royal  family  were  exempted 
as  a  privilege;  whilst  Domes,  Haris,  Musalmans  and  women 
were  excluded  as  unfit.  For  some  time  preceding  the  sacrifice 
the  victim  to  be  immolated  was  detained  at  the  temple  and 
sumptuously  fed  there,  until  he  attained  a  sufficiently  plump 
condition  to  suit  the  assumed  taste  of  the  flesh-eating  goddess. 
On  the  appointed  day  he  was  led  forth,  magnificently  attired 
and  decorated  with  gold  and  silver  ornaments,  to  be  shown  to 
the  crowds  assembled  for  the  occasion.  He  was  then  led  away 
and  taken,  by  a  private  path  trodden  only  by  the  officiating 
priests  and  their  victims,  to  the  brink  of  a  deep  pit,  where  he 
was  divested  of  his  gay  attire  and  decapitated  so  that  the  body 
fell  into  the  pit.  The  head  was  added  to  a  heap  of  ghastly 
skulls  that  were  piled  up  before  the  shrine.  The  exact  date 
when  these  fearful  sacrifices  ceased  does  not  seem  to  be 
definitely  known.  Lieutenant  (afterwards  Colonel)  Dalton, 
from  whose  highly  interesting  paper  most  of  the  above  details 
are  taken,  states  that  they  were  in  vogue  down  to  the  time 
when  the  Ahom  Government  was  superseded  by  that  of  the 
Burmese,  when  the  Deoris  finally  withdrew  from  the  neighbour- 
hood of  the  "  copper  temple."  Mr.  Brown,  on  the  other  hand, 
tells  us  that  these  human  sacrifices  were  abolished  at  a  some- 
what earlier  date  by  Raja  Gaurinath,  who,  also  being  unable  to 
protect  the  Deoris  from  the  Mishmis  and  other  tribes,  removed 
them  to  the  Majuli,2  where  some  of  their  villages  are  still  to  be 

As  among  other  branches  of  the  BarS,  race,  infant  betrothal  is 
unknown,  no  marriage  being  permitted  until  puberty  is 
attained.  Monogamy  is  the  rule  among  Deoris  and  Barahis ; 
but  a  second  wife  is  allowed  where  the  first  proves  childless. 

1  Cf.  the  old  Jewish  law  regarding  animals  for  sacrifice  being  "  without 
blemish,"  Exodus,  xii.,  5  ;  Leviticus,  xxii.  19-21. 

2  A  long  island  in  the  Brahmaputra. — Ed. 


Polygamy  is  common  among  Hindu  and  Ahom  Chutiyas,  but 
polyandry  is  quite  unknown.  Marriages  are  generally  planned 
and  arranged  by  the  parents  of  the  young  people  concerned,  a 
bride-price  varying  from  Rs.  10  to  Rs.  100  being  paid  to  the 
bride's  parents  by  those  of  the  bridegroom,  or  an  equivalent 
given  in  service  in  the  bride's  household  (cf.  Genesis,  xxix. 
15-20  :  Jacob  serving  Laban  seven  years  for  Rachel). 

The  actual  marriage  ceremony  seems  to  vary  considerably  in 
the  four  different  clans  (khels)  which  compose  the  Chutiya 
community.  With  the  two  lower  sections,  i.e.,  the  Deoris  and 
Barahis,  it  consists  in  a  feast  given  by  the  bridegroom's  people 
to  the  friends  and  fellow-villagers  of  the  bride,  accompanied  by 
much  singing  of  songs,  etc.,  in  honour  of  the  clan  gods  and 
goddesses,  whilst  with  not  a  few  even  this  simple  ceremonial  is 
dispensed  with,  and  the  young  man  claims  his  bride  by  merely 
placing  bracelets  on  her  wrists  and  a  string  of  beads,  etc.,  on 
her  neck  (Kharu  and  mani  pindhoa).1  But  among  the  Ahom 
and  Deori  Chutiyas,  who  claim  a  somewhat  higher  position 
than  the  other  two  sections,  a  more  elaborate  ceremonial  is 
observed.  The  Ahom  Chutiyas  to  some  extent  still  observe  the 
form  of  marriage  characteristic  of  their  race,  i.e.,  that  known  as 
the  Chaklang.  There  is  an  exchange  of  temi  and  katdri  between 
bride  and  bridegroom,  who  are  made  formally  to  inhale  the 
smell  of  turmeric  together,  and  this  is  followed  by  the  tying  of 
the  nuptial  knot  (lagun  gathi),  and  the  distribution  of  simple 
refreshments  (jal-pan)  among  the  assembled  friends  and 
relatives;  and  finally  the  bridegroom  is  said  to  carry  off  his 
bride  through  a  hole  cut  in  the  corner  of  the  house,  this  last 
proceeding  being  perhaps  a  survival  of  the  time  when  marriage 
by  capture  or  stealth  was  not  unknown.  With  the  Hindu 
Chutiyas  there  is  a  still  more  elaborate  ceremonial  in  vogue, 
one  which  approximates  somewhat  closely  to  the  orthodox 
Hindu  ideal.  The  chaklang  form  is  superseded  by  that  of  the 
'  horn,'  i.e.,  libations  of  clarified  butter  (ghi)  are  formally  poured 
in  sacrifice  on  the  sacred  fire,  and  certain  special  mantras  are 
recited  by  the  officiating  priest  in  the  presence  of  the  bride 
and  bridegroom,  who  are  formally  seated  by  his  side,  and 
formally  united  by  the  tying  of  the  nuptial  knot  (lagun-gathi). 
It  is  said,  further,  that  matrimonial  etiquette  requires  postpone- 
ment of  consummation  of  the  marriage  for  a  week  or  so  after 
the  completion  of  the  wedding  ceremonial. 

Divorce,  which  would  seem  to  be  not  very  common,  may  and  Divorce, 
usually  does   follow   adultery   on   the   part   of   the   wife,  the  ^m^' 
adulterer  paying  a  fine  of  Rs.  500  to  the  injured  husband,  and  riage,  eto. 
1  I.e.,  the  putting  on  of  khdru  (bracelets)  and  mani  (necklace). — Ed. 


further  being  compelled  to  provide  a  home  for  the  erring 
woman,  whom  no  respectable  man  of  the  tribe  would  consent  to 
marry.  The  form  used  in  cases  of  divorce  is  the  usual  one  of 
tearing  a  betel-leaf  (pan-chira)  together  by  the  husband  and 
the  wife.  The  remarriage  of  widows  is  permitted  with  few,  if 
any,  restrictions  ;  but  as  a  rule  the  full  marriage  ceremonial, 
whether  '  horn '  or  '  chaklang,'  is  not  observed  in  such  widow 

Disposal  The  bodies  of  the  dead  are  usually  disposed  of  by  burning, 
except  in  cases  of  epidemics,  when,  through  panic  or  like  cause, 
they  are  thrown  into  the  jungle,  or  left  to  perish  where  they 
fall.  The  cremation  is  generally  followed  by  a  funeral  feast, 
lasting  for  a  period  of  from  five  to  nine  days,  either  at  the 
deceased's  house  or  at  the  river-side  where  the  body  was  burnt. 
A  shradh  with  feasting  of  the  dead  man's  relatives  takes  place 
usually  at  the  end  of  a  month  after  the  cremation.  This 
shradh  marks  the  closing  of  the  period  of  mourning,  which  in  the 
case  of  an  adult  extends  over  about  thirty  days,  during  which 
period  no  flesh  or  fish  may  be  eaten,  though  rice,  ghi  and 
potatoes  are  allowed.  In  the  case  of  those  who  die  in  child- 
hood no  shradh  is  observed,  though  the  bereaved  family  usually 
go  into  mourning  for  some  three  days. 


To  the  stories  taken  by  Mr.  Endle  from  my  little  collection  of 
Kachari  folk-tales,  I  have  ventured  to  add  the  following  three 
tales,  with  an  interlinear  literal  translation  and  some  brief 
linguistic  notes.  This  I  have  done  in  order  to  follow  the 
example  set  in  Sir  C.  J.  Lyall's  edition  of  Mr.  Edward  Stack's 
work  on  the  Mikirs.  A  transcription  followed  by  a  loose 
translation  is  not  of  much  use  to  linguistic  students  unless  they 
have  already  some  knowledge  of  the  language.  I  ought  to 
explain  that  I  have  not  •  followed  Mr.  Endle's  system  of  trans- 
literation. In  a  language  which  has  no  written  character, 
it  is  best  to  trust  to  one's  own  ear.  In  such  languages  dialect 
springs  up  quickly  and  local  differences  of  pronunciation  abound. 
I  have  merely  tried,  therefore,  to  record  what  I  have  myself 
heard.  With  the  aid  of  the  literal  versions  I  now  give,  and  by 
carefully  reading  Mr.  Endle's  Grammar,  anyone  who  wishes  to 
compare  Kachari  with  other  JBodo  languages,  such  as  Garo  and 
Tippera,  ought  to  be  able  to  make  out  the  remainder  of  the 
stories  in  my  little  collection  without  much  difficulty. 

The  vowels  are  recorded  as  follows : — 

a  is  pronounced  like  u  in  English  hut 

a  „  „  „  a   „  „  father 

e  „  „  „  a    „  „  mason 

i  „  „  „  i    „  „  fit 

i  „  ,,  .,  ee  „  „  green 

o  „  „  ,.  o   „  „  hot 

6  „  „  „  o   „  „  lo !  alone 

u  „  „  „  u  „  „  pull 

u  „  „  „  oo  „  „  school 

ai  „  „  „  i   „  „  bite 

au  „  „  „  ow  „  „  how. 

1  This  Appendix  is  written  by  Mr.  J.  D.  Anderson,  the  compiler  of  the  little 
work  on  Kachdri  folk-tales  mentioned  on  p.  54. — Ed. 



The  sound  represented  by  u  is  rather  difficult  to  describe  to 
Europeans.  To  my  ear,  it  seems  rather  guttural,  something 
like  the  u  in  "  ugh ! "  or  the  vulgar  pronunciation  of  girl  as 
"  gurl."  Or,  again,  it  may  be  said  to  be  like  the  French  eu  in 
peu,  as  pronounced  by  English  people.  Or  perhaps  a  still  nearer 
approximation  is  the  Englishman's  "  er "  when  he  pauses  in 
making  an  after-dinner  speech.  The  sound  is  of  some  importance, 
as  -iii  is  the  suffix  by  which  the  adverb  in  modern  Kachari  is 
formed  from  the  adjective.  Thus  ga-ham,  good;  gaham-iii, 
well.  Also  the  continuative  participle,  as,  thang-ui,  thang-tii ; 
going,  going — as  he  went. 

When  a  is  added  to  a  noun,  it  is,  as  in  Assamese,  the  sign  of 
the  nominative.  If  the  word  ends  in  a  vowel,  and  especially  in 
the  vowel  a,  an  euphonic  i  is  inserted  between  the  two  vowels. 
Thus  hingzau-sa  is  "  woman."  Hingzau-sa-i-a  is  "  the  woman," 
in  a  narrative.  Similarly  -au  is  the  inflexion  marking  the 
locative  case.  If  the  word  ends  in  a,  this  letter  is  divided  from 
au  by  an  euphonic  i. 

Words  borrowed  from  Assamese  or  other  Indian  languages  are 
printed  in  Roman  letters.  Some  such  may  have  escaped  me. 
If  so,  they  have  probably  been  so  transmuted  by  Bodo  habits  of 
pronunciation  as  to  have  become  completely  naturalised. 

A  inserted  or  "infixed"  in  the  middle  of  a  verb  (between 
stem  and  inflexion)  is  the  sign  of  the  negative.  Sometimes  the 
euphonic  i  precedes  it.  Sometimes,  especially  before  a  guttural 
sound,  it  is  converted  into  e. 

No  other  supplementary  explanations  beyond  those  given  in 
Mr.  Endle's  note  on  grammar  seem  required  here. 

Simpleton-of  Story. 

Sd-se       brai  burui      dangman.     Bi-sur-ha  sd-se  gotho 

One    old  man     old  woman      were.          Them-to     one     boy 
dangman.     Bl    sdnl-se      brai  -  burui  -  nl  -  au       moso     bai-nu 
was.         He  day-one  old-man  old-woman-to  bullock  buy-to 
lagi    thaka     bi-naise.      Khintu      brai  burui      gotho-kho 

for    money    beg-ged.          But     old  man    old  woman    boy-toj 
azla   nu-ndniii   thaka       hu-d-man.      Gotho-d      em-brd-brd 
silly     see-ing     money    give-not-did.      Boy      again  and  again 

1  San  =  literally,  the  sun. 


bl-nai-khai  thaka       zakhai-brui1     hu-naise.       Phdre 

begging- because-of     money      four-fours       give-did.        Then 
gotho-d     moso      bai-nu    lagi     thdng-ui     thdng-ui     man-thdm 
boy     bullock    buy-to     for       go-ing       go-ing  three 

ali-m  khathi-aw  ga-hdm    moso     md-se  nu-ndnui,  be      ali-aw 
roads-of  near-at       good   bullock     one      see-ing,  that  road-on 
thaka    din-ndnui,    moso-kho    khd-ndnui  Idbo-naise.     Thdng-ui 
money     plac-ing,    bullock-to    bind-ing     take-did.         Going 
thdng-ui  bl-hd         khl-nu        on-khdt-ndnui    moso-kho  hd-grdz 
going       he   to  ease  himself     depart-ing        bullock      forest 
dai-se-au         khd-ndnui     din-ndnui  khl-hui-bds 

branch-one-to       bind-ing         plac-ing      to  ease  himself  go-ing 
mosd-d     be-thing    khdt-ldng-naise.     Phdre    be    khi-nai-nl-frai 
bullock  that-way     run-away-did.        Then    he      easing-from 
fai-ndnui,    moso-kho         nu-e-khai        hd-grd    hd-grd    ndmai- 
com-ing,      bullock    see  not-because    forest      forest       seek- 
bai-naise*      A™  bl   mui  zonthrd  nu-ndnui,  bl-kho-nu    bl-nl 
wander-did.     And  he  deer     male       see-irig,    it-indeed  him-of 
moso       han-ndnui,  husu-baie  husu-baie  un-au  hd-grd   zethdp- 
bullock        say-ing,     hunt-ing  hunt-ing    after     forest  thicket- 
au  gongd   ndng-ndnui5   thdp-thd-ndnui    thd-naise.     Obdsu    bl 
in    horns      stick-ing       caught-stay-ing     stay-ed.       Then   he 
mui-kho  godo-i-au  didung-zang  khd-ndnui   no-hd-ldgl    dldung 
deer-to     neck-on      cord-with      bind-ing    house-up-to   string 
zorai     zorai       no       man-fai-naise.     Beau-nu  blmd     blfd-i-d 
ty-ing  ty-ing  house   reach-come-did.       Then  mother    father 
sung-naise,    "  nang        moso       bai-nu      thdng-nai-d,     huru?"& 

ask-ed,  you      bullock      buy-to     go-did-not,       eh  ? 

Obdsu     bi    bung-naise,     "  be     dldung-kho    bu-bd-nu,    zang-fur 
Then     he       say-did,        this      string-to       tug-see,         you 
moso         man-gan."      Erui   han-ndnui,     sd-thdm         zang 
bullock        get-will.        Thus     say-ing,      they-three     together 
dldung-au   hom-ndnui  bu-bd-naise.     Bu-l        bii-l     mui-d    no 
string-on      seiz-ing       haul-ed.     Hauling  hauling  deer  house 
man-fai-ld ;       boibu   gi-khrong-naise.      Phdre   blmd  bifd-i-d 
reach-come-did;  they  all  fear-much-did.       Then    mother-father 

1  Zakhai  =  a  group  of  four,  like  the  Hindi  ganda. 

2  Ha-gra ;  ha  =  earth,  cf.  ha-zo,  high  earth,  mountain  ;  ha-bru,  dirty  earth, 
mud.     So  also  dui-bru,  dirty  water,  whence  we  get  Dibrugarh. 

3  The  infix  htii  conveys  a  sense  of   "at"  or  "from  a  distance."     v.  Mr. 
Anderson's  account  of  the  '  agglutinative'  verb  ;  vol.  Ill,  part  II,  pp.  7-15  of 
the  Linguistic  Survey  of  India. — ED. 

4  The  infix  bai  signifies  continuance. 

5  Nang,  gnang  are  very  like  the  Assamese  lag  and  the  Bengali  lag  in  the 
double  sense  of  "  sticking"  and  necessity. 

6  Huru.    Kacharis,  like  Assamese,  are  very  fond  of  such  expletives,  which 
though  they  have  little,  if  any,  meaning,  add  to  the  liveliness  of  narration.. 
Many  others  will  be  found  later  on. 

H   2 

ioo  APPENDIX    II 

mui-kho   bu-thdt-ndnui    s'lai-nu1       lagi    g&ml-nl    mansui-?M£ 

deer-to    beat-slay-ing  exchange-to    for    village-of     men-to 
banyan  hu-naise. 

loads    send-did. 

Be-au-nu  gotho  dbrd-i-d    "  ai    dfd-i-d   moso     bu-thdt-ndnui 

Then      boy-foolish   mother    father  bullock  beat-killed-did 

zdbai"  han-ndniii   mdlai-ni       game      game    khithd-bai-naise. 

ate  say-ing  strangers-of  village  village  say-continue-did. 
Khintu  bi-kho  dbrd  nu-ndnui  mansui-/ra  bi-rii  khordng-kho 

But       him  foolish    see-ing          men  his  word 

fathi-d-khuise.2         Bl-nl       unau,    aji-frw     thd-i-u       kali-frfi 
believe-not-did.       There-of    after,    to-day    staying  to-morrow 
thd-i-u,    dbrd-i-d      bdngai      dc,t-bu-ndnuiz  gdgai-ni    hingzau 
staying,        fool       somewhat   big-grow -ing    himself-of      wife 
namai-nu  lagi    dru  brai-burui-nl-au  thaka    bl-naise, 

seek-to      for   more  old-man  old-woman  from  money    ask-did. 

Be-au-bu      hu-d         gdr-d,       thaka  zohJud-brui  brai-?u-/rat 
Thereupon  give-not  escape-not,  money  four-fours  old-man-from 
Id-ndnui  hingzau  ndmai-ndnui  thdng-naise.     Thdng-ui  thdng-ui 

tak-ing      wife          seek-ing          go -did.  Going       going 

garni  mansiii-wi  dui  gathdn-au  zombai  thd-naise.  Phdre 
village  men's  water  ghaut-at  hiding  stay-ed.  Then 
unau  sdse  mazdng  hingzausd  dui  Idng-nu  fai-nai  nu-ndnui, 
after  one  pretty  girl  water  draw-to  com-ing  see-ing, 

dui  gathdn-au  bi  dui-ldng-nai  hingzausd-kho  hom-ndnui 
water  ghaut-at  he  water-draw-ing  girl-to  seiz-ing 

Idbo-naise.      Phdre     fai-ui      fai-ui     ndmd-i-au    meng-ndnui 

take-did.  Then  coming  coming  road-on  tired-being 
bong-fdng-Jdng-se-rii*  sing-au  zir&i-naisc,  art!  wioso-halwa 

tree-one-of  under     rest-ed,     and  bullock  plough(er) 

md-se   Id-ndnui,    mansui    sd-se    bu     be-au-nu    zirai-dangman. 

one       taking,        man       one    also       there         resting-was. 

Bl-baidi  bi-sur  zirai-bd  thd-bd,  hom.-nai  ldng-zd-nai& 
This-way  they  resting-staying,  seiz-ed  abducted 

1  S'lai,  or  z'lai,  implies  mutual  action,  exchange. 

2  A  good  instance  of  the  characteristic  double  negative  of  Kachari,  or, 
rather,  of  the  fact  that  the  inflexion  khuise  is  only  used  with  the  negative 

3  Det,  which  by  a  common  idiom  can  be  made  adjectival  by  adding  the 
usual  prefix,  thus,  ge-det=big. 

4  Bongfang  =  tree,  fang-se  =  one,  ni  =  sign  of  the  genitive.     As  to  fang- 
se,   see   many    other    instances  of  the  Kachdri  generic  way  of  counting ; 
e.g.,  mansui  sa-se,  one  man;  mosa  ma-se,  one  tiger;  etc.     There  are  several 
instances  in  these  stories. 

5  Lang-za-nai,   the  curious  "passive"  or  "middle"  participle.       Perhaps 
the  most  characteristic  instance  of  its  use  I  have  come  across  is  in  another 
story  not  given   here,    where  a  giant  insults   the  Kachari  Jack-the-giant- 
killer  by  calling  him  a  "  godo-i-au  set-ba  gakhir  on-khdt-nai  gotho,"  literally  a 

APPENDIX    II  101 

hingzau-i-d  zingdsi-ndnui  gdb-ui    gdb-ui  megong-dui-i-d  hd-hd- 
girl  lamenting    cry-ing  cry-ing      eye-water   earth-to- 

lagi1  buhi-ldng-naise.  Bi-kho  nu-ndnui  moso  Id-nai 
as  far  as  flow-down-did.  This  see-ing  bullock  leading 
mansui-a  dbrd-nu  khithd-naise,  "  nang  be  hingzausd-kho  mau2 
man  fool-to  say-did,  you  that  girl- to  where 
man-nail  A™  nang  bi-kho  nai-nanui  Idbo-dang,  na  nai-i-d- 
get-did  ?  And  you  her  observ-ing  take-did,  or  see-not- 
Id-bd  labo-dang  ? "  Old  dbrd-i-d  bting-naise  "  dng  bl-kho 
doing  took?  Then  fool  say-did  I  her 

mazdng  nu-ndnui  bl-sur-nl   dui-gathdn-ni-frai   thaka    zokhai- 
pretty      see-ing     them-of     water-ghaut-from    rupees     four- 
brtii  din-ndnui  labo-dang"    Obd-nu  bl  buddi-grdng-d 3 

fours  plac-ing     take-did.        Then  that  wisdom-possessing-one 
bung-naise,  "nang  khana  dang.       Be   hingzausd      mazdng-bd- 

say-did,         you     blind    were.     That       girl        pretty-being- 

bu*       bi-nl  megong  thai-ne-d  bd-nai.       Nang  nu-d-khui-nul 
though,  her-of    eyes         two     burst-are.     You     see-not-did  ? 
Ho,    nui,  dui-d     so-so     buhi-ldng-dang.    Bl-baidl  hingzausd- 
Nay,   see,  water  rushing    flow-down-is.      This-kind      woman- 
Mo  nang  md    khdm-nuV^ 
to     you  what   do-will  ? 

Be      khordng    khnd-ndnui     dbrd-i-d    bl-nl       moso       zang 

That        word          hear-ing          fool          his      bullock     with 

s'lai-nti,  namai-naise.     Khintu  bl  manstii-o;  misai-7i%  fiu-nti, 

change-to      wish-ed.  But   that      man      false-ly   give-to 

namai-i-d.      Theo-bu         embrd-brd  bl-nai-khai, 

wish-ed-not.         Yet      again  and   again    begging-because   of, 

" Id,   le,   Id"         han-ndnui,         moso-zang        m&nsni-zang 

"  take,  then,  take,"       saying,  bullock- with     mortal-with 

s'lai-ndnui,  gdgai  gdgai  mon-cm  ga-hdm  6  man-ndnui,  azang 7 

exchang-ing,  own     own    mind-in     well      find-ing,  one-person 

"on-throat-squeezing-milk-exuding-boy,"  i.e.,  a  babe  in  whose  mouth  is  still 
his  mother's  milk. 

1  Ha-ha-lagi.      The  first  hd  is  the  word  for  "  earth,"  the  second  is  the 
same  word  used  as  a  datival  affix  =   "up  to,"  while  lagi  is  the  common 
Assamese  word  repeating  the  idea  of  the  second  ha. 

2  Mau  of  course  =  md-au,  the  locative  of  md  =  what. 

3  Grang  =  an  affix  commonly  used  to  indicate  the  possessor  of  a  quality, 
a  =  sign  of  nominative. 

4  Ba  is  the  sign  of  the  conditional  tense,   and   the  adjective   mazang  ia 
turned  into  a  verb  by  its  use. 

8  Ma  kham-nfi  (in  the  infinitive)  is  curiously  like  the  French  use  of  "que 
faire  ? " 

8  Ga-hdm  =  good ;  hdm-d  =  not  good,  bad ;  hdm-dang  =  is  good ;  Mm-a- 
bai  =  was  not  good,  etc. 

7  Azang  is  simply  the  Assamese  e  jan,  used  distributively  by  repetition  and 
heightened  by  the  indigenous  sd-se,  which  means  the  same  as  Assamese  e. 


sd-se      azang        sd-se    mdmdr  thdng-lai-naise.     Be-baidi-nu 
one    one  person     one    quickly      went-away.     This-manner-in 
thdng-iii  thdng-ui  x  dbrd-i-d  bong-fdng  fdng-se  sing-au  burmd 
going       going  fool  tree         one       under      goat 

Id-nai     mdnsui   sd-se     zo-bai   thd-naiz       nu-ndnui,    bi-bti, 
lead-ing      man       one     sitting    stay-ing         seeing,      he-too 
be-au-nu       zo-naise.       Be-baidi      zo-bai       thd-bd,      moso-d 
there-indeed     sit-did.       This-way  sit-ting    stay-ing,    bullock 
hd-su-dangman.        Phdre       bt       burmd         Idnai      mdnsui-a 

defecated.  Then     that       goat        leading        man 

bung-naise,  "  be    moso-nl  udu-i-d  gob-long-bai,   aril  sdn  sd-se 3 

said          that  bullock's   belly       is  burst,       more  day    one 
thdbd   be     thoi-sl-gan."       Be-au-bu   bi   dbrd-i-d  gomd  nung- 
staying  it  die-perish-will.         Then    that     fool        true  think- 
ndnui,  moso-kho  bl-ni  burmd-zang  s'lai-naise.      Be-baidi  thdng-ui, 
ing,      bullock    his    goat- with  exchanged.    This-way    going, 
dru     sd-se      thdlit       Id-nai     mdnsui        Itigu        man-nanui, 
also      one     banana     bearing       man       meeting        getting, 
dbrd-i-d   bti  zo-dangman.     Khintu  burmd-i-d  gdngsu  4  ukhui- 
fool      also       sit-did.  But         goat        grass      hunger- 

ndnui          ba-brdp      bai-nai-au5      In,      zo-ntt  sukhu 

ing  restless     wandering-on   he     sit-to  pleasure 

man-e-khai,       burmd-kho    bubd,    burmd   bd  bd    han-naise. 
get-not-because  of     goat        beat-ing,  goat     ba-baa     say-did. 
Obdnii,  "  ese  mengndi-i-au  dng  nang-kho   md-brui        bd-gan  ?  " 

Then  thus   tired-being      I        you       what-way    carry-shall  ? 
han-ndnui,      brdp-ndnui,       gdr-nti6     lubui-bd,      be       thdlit 
saying,       angered-being  to   get  rid    wishing,   that   banana 
Id-nai    mdnsui-d,  thdlit-kho  dbrd-nu  hu-ndnui,  In  burmd-kho 
carry-ing     man         bananas     fool-to      giv-ing,    he      goat 
Idng-naise.         Bi-baidi-nu       bl-sur  bi-ni-frai    thdng-lai-naise.7 
take-did.      This-way-indeed  they  there-from     go-away-did. 
Ure-au-nu    sd-se    mdnsui   bl-nl     sigdng-thiny       dsl       khrep- 
There-upon    one        man       his   front-direction  finger      snap- 

1  Thang-ui    is    the    adverbial    participle,     something     like     "going-ly." 
Gaham-iii  =  well. 

2  Zo-bai-thd-nai  =  sit-continue-stay-ing. 

3  San  sa-se  =  lit.  "sun  one."     Sa  is  usually  the  distributive  word  used  in 
counting  humans.     I  imagine  its  use  here  is  not  to  indicate  personification, 
but  for  euphony,  as  a  jingle  to  san.    Man-se  would  be  the  normal  construction. 

4  I  have  not  marked  gdngsii  as  an  Assamese  word,  but  it  is  probably  a 
Kachari  version  of  ghdn. 

5  Ba-brap-lai-nai-au  ;  this  is  the  locative  case  of  the  "  passive  "  participle 
in  nai  of  the  "  agglutinative  "-verb,  ba-brdp-bai.  The  infix  brdp  signifies  anger, 
restlessness,  and  bai  means  wandering  about.  '  Gar  =  to  loose. 

7  Thdng   =    go ;    lai    =    severally,   the   same   root  as   occurs   in  s'lai   = 

APPENDIX    II  103 

khrep  ddm-ndnui  fai-dang.     Ola-su  khathi-ew     lugti     man-lei, 

snap  sound-ing     come-did.      Then       near      meeting  getting 
dbrd-i-d   bitng-naise,  "  dng  burmd  md-se  maul    hti-ndntii,    be 

fool  said  I        goat       one    up-to     giv-ing,  those 

thdlit-kho       labodang.  Theo-bil    dng-ni-au         thdlit 

bananas     carried-away.  Yet       from-me  banana    (you) 

bl-u ! "     Erui  han-ndnui,  "  nang     thdlit  zd-nu  lubui-dang-bd,1 

beg !        So       say-ing,         you    banana  eat-to      wish-do-if 
nang-nl  bidya-Mo  dng-nu  hit"  han-ndnui,  bl  bi-au-nu  hurd-se 

your         skill        me-to  give,      say-ing,    he    there    hour-one 
mdni   sulung-ndnui,   zenthen-fa   hd-ndnui,     thdlit-kho    bl-nu 

till         teaching,         as  best      able-being     bananas   him-to 
hu-ndnui,     dsl    khrep-khrep  ddm-ndnui  thdng-naise.     Thdng-ui 

giving    finger  snap-snap    sound-ing    depart-ed.         Going 
thdng-ui,    mai    gezer     ddp-se-au  khl-nu         orikhdt-ndnui 

going       rice     tall     field-on  e-in     defecate-to         going-out 
Jchl-nai-au       bi-ni    bidya-Mo    bau-gdr-naise.          Aru     be 
(in  the  process)   his       leaving  forgot.  And   that 

mai-gezer-au-nti,      gamd-bai 2      han-ndnui,      mai-Jcho       themd 

rice-tall-in  lost-is  saying,  rice  lice 

nai-nai-baidi  3  nai-naise.     JBe-au-nu   mai-ni   girima-'i-a 4  mai 

seeking-like     searched.          Then       rice-of       owner       rice 
hd-bai-tha-dangman 5  nu-ndnui,    bl-Jcho    sUng-naise,     "  nang-hd 

was  broken   down       seeing        him  asked  you 

be-au       md        gamd-dang  ?         Ang-nl  mai-fur-hd      hdm-d 
there      what       have    lost  ?  My  rice  plants         ruined 

zo-thro-bai." 6  Abrd       bung-naise,      "  dng-hd       thaka 

flattened-utterly-are.      Fool          say-did,  I  rupees 

zokhai-brui-nl  bidya  man-se    be-au-nu    gamd-bai.         Nang-bu 

sixteen   of     skill        one         there  lost.  You-too 

dng-zang      namai-phd-bd,     dng    nang-kho    ga-hdm  man-gan"'1 
me-with      seek-come-ing        I         you-to        well     meet-will, 

han-nai-khai,       bi-bu   namai-ui  namai-ui       man-e-khai 8 
saying-because-of  he-too   seeking     seeking   get-not-because  of 

1  Lubui-dang-bd,  a  rather  rare  case  of  a  double  inflection.     Lvfoui-lnl  would 
have  sufficed.     Much  the  same  difference  as  between  "  if  you  wish  "  and  "  if 
you  are  wishing." 

2  Ga-ma,   adjectival    form    conjugated    with    the    verbal   inflexion    -bai. 
Cf.  Lakh-md  —  hide. 

3  Nai-nai,  root  repeated  to  signify  continuous  action. 

4  Girimii  is  plainly  from  Sanscrit  grihasta. 

5  Hd-bai-thd-danyman  =  fall-continue-stay-was. 

6  Thro  =  a  common  infix  commonly  used  to  express  completeness  of  action. 
E.g.,  Thoi-thro-bai  =  was  utterly  slain. 

7  Ga-hdm  man-gan  =  will  get  advantage,  good. 

8  Man  =  get ;  e  (euphonic  for  d)  =  not  ;  khai  =  by  reason  of. 

104  APPENDIX    II 

brdp-ndnui,     "  nang-nl   khordng-d   misa,"  han-ndnui,         dsl 
angry-being       your  tale         false,       saying,        fingers 

dam-la,       *  a/a,     da     ang    man-bai ! "    han-ndnui    dbrd-i-d 
sounding,    father,    now      I        get-have !        saying          fool 
khdt-ldng-naise.     Aru       be-baidi-nu      tkdng-ui  thdng-ui  fukuri 
ran-away.          And  that- way- exactly  going       going     pond 
man-se  man-hui-bdl    be-au-bu    bl    khl-ndnui,   bl-nl  bidya-fcAo 

one       meet-ing      there-too   he  defecating,     his          art 
baugdr-naise.         Phdre       bi     ndmai-e 2  namai-e    man-d-khui. 
forgot.  Then      he      seeking    seeking     get-not-did. 

Ere-au-nu  sd-se  mansui    lugfl.   man-ndnui  sung-naise,  "  nang-hd 

There-on    one     man   meeting    getting       ask-ed          you 
be-au        ma      gamd-dang  ? "      hanbd,      "  dfd,     dng-ha     be-au 
there      what       lost-have,         saying,     father,         I          there 
ga-hdm  basthu    man-se    gamd-bai ;     nang-bu    namai-bd,    ang 

good      thing       one  lost ;         you  too      seeking,         I 

gahdm   man-go"    bung-nai-au 3    bl-bil      bl-zang       namai-fai- 

well    meet-will,        saying         he-too  him-with   search-come- 
naise,      dru      un-au    ndmai-ui     ncimai-ui       hd-bru         zang 

did,        and        then      seeking        seeking    earth-mud      with 
musunld-musunll     zd-ndnui,    theo-bu         man-e-khai,  bl 

hugger-mugger      becoming       yet       get-not-because  of    that 
mdnsui-d    brdp-ndnui        dsi       ddm-naise.     Obd     bi,   "  0  dfd, 
man       angry-being  fingers     sounded.      Then  he,  O  father, 
dd-su       ang  be-Jcho  man-bai,"  han-ndnui,    rong      zd-ndnui, 
?wny-indeed     I       it      got-have,      saying,     happy   becoming, 

no-hd-ldgi        khrep-khrep   ddm-ndnui,      no  man-hui-naise. 

house-up-to       snap-snap      sounding  house  went  and  reached. 
Bl-kho  nu-ndnui  brai    burui-a       mini-su-naise.        Agla  bi-kho 

Him   seeing  old  man  old  woman  laugh-much-did.     First   him 
sinai4        man-d-khtii-man,    unau    silng-ndnui    mithl-naise. 
recognition         get-not-did          after       ask-ing  knew. 

Aru  thaka-/wr    ma    khdm-khul"  "han-bd,    bung-naise,  " ang 
And      rupees     what        did  ?  saying     (he)   said,       I 

hingzau  sd-se  labo-dangman.  Be-hd  megon  thai-ne   bu      bet-nai. 

girl      one        take-did.       Her     eyes      two    also  were  burst. 
Bl-ni-khai  dru      moso      s'lai-naise.       Bl-bu   dng-kho     bd-nu 
Therefore  also   bullock    exchanged.      It-too        me       to  carry 

1  Hfd  is  an  interesting  infix,  and  implies  "  went  and  did,"  or  "  did  from  a 
distance."     Man-hui-bd  =  although  he  went  and  got;  man  =  get. 
•  Namai-e  =  euphonic  for  namai-Hi. 

3  Bung-nai-au,   an  interesting  idiom  ;   bungndniii,  the  present   participle, 
apparently  imitated  from  the  Assamese,  when  the  agglutinative  verb  began 
to  decay,   would   have  done  as  well  ;    bung-nai-au  is   the  locative  of  the 
"middle"  participle  ;  bung-nai  =  "on  saying." 

4  Sinai  is  evidently  chini  (Assamese). 

KACHARI  MAN  (Kamrup  District). 
/•'ro»i  a  Photograph  by  3Irs.   //.  A.  Cohfith 

APPENDIX    II  105 

thin-nai-khai    brdp-ndimi,       thdlit       s'lai-naise.        Thdlit-kho 
ordering        being  angry    bananas    exchanged.         Bananas 

nu-ndnui,  sd-se  mansui-«        bl-nai-khai,         be    mansui-nl-frai 
seeing     one       man      begging-because  of  that     man  from 
be  bidya-Mo  sulung-ndntii    thdlit    hti-ndnui  Idbo-dcing.       Aril 

this      skill          learning      bananas     giving        took.  And 

dug   md     khdm-nil     ndng-go  ? "      Zap-bai ! 
I    what      to  do       was  obliged  ?      Ended ! 


The   story   of  the   simpleton. 

There  was  once  an  old  man  and  an  old  woman,  and  they  had 
an  only  son.  One  day  he  begged  rupees  of  the  old  people  to 
buy  a  bullock,  but  they,  seeing  the  lad  was  an  innocent,  refused 
his  request.  However,  on  his  importuning  them,  they  gave 
him  sixteen  rupees.  On  which  he  marched  off  to  purchase  his 
bullock,  and  finding  a  fine  one  where  three  roads  met,  he  put 
down  his  money  on  the  road  and  led  the  beast  away,  but  as  he 
was  going,  he  tied  his  new  acquisition  to  a  branch,  and,  as  he 
was  looking  another  way,  it  escaped.  On  which  he  started  in 
search  of  it,  and  seeing  a  stag,  hunted  that,  until  by  chance  its 
horns  stuck  in  a  thicket.  Thereon  he  tied  a  cord  round  its  neck, 
and  joining  other  cords  to  the  first,  finally  reached  his  home. 
On  which  his  father  and  mother  asked,  "  Did  not  you  set  out 
to  buy  a  bullock  ? "  "  To  be  sure  I  did,"  he  replied,  "  and  if 
you  help  me  to  pull  this  cord,  you  will  see  the  bullock  I  have 
bought."  So  they  all  three  bugged,  and  presently  the  stag 
appeared,  kicking  and  struggling,  to  the  great  fear  of  the  old 
people.  They  killed  it,  nevertheless,  and  sent  its  flesh  round  to 
the  adjacent  villages  for  sale.  After  which  the  boy  went  about 
saying  that  the  villagers  had  eaten  cow's  flesh.  But  seeing  him 
to  be  a  fool,  no  one  paid  much  attention  to  what  he  said. 

Another  day,  some  time  after,  when  the  silly  boy  was  rather 
bigger,  he  asked  for  money  again  to  buy  a  wife  with.  And 
again,  overcome  by  his  obstinacy,  they  gave  him  sixteen  rupees, 
taking  which  he  set  out  in  search  of  a  maiden,  and,  after  going 
some  distance,  took  up  his  station  at  a  place  where  the  villagers 
draw  water  from  the  river.  Presently  a  pretty  girl  came  tripping 
down  to  get  water,  on  which,  as  before,  he  put  down  his  money 
and  seized  and  carried  off  the  girl.  And  since  she  was  plump, 
he  soon  grew  tired  and  rested  under  a  tree.  Presently  a 

io6  APPENDIX    II 

man  leading  a  plough  ox  came  that  way,  and  he  too  joined  the 
party  and  sat  down.  But  the  girl  sat  weeping  and  lamenting 
and  crying  her  eyes  out.  Seeing  which,  the  man  said  to  the 
simpleton,  "  Where  did  you  get  that  girl  ?  And  did  you  have  a 
good  look  at  her  before  you  took  her  ? "  "  Yes,  I  did,"  said  the  lad, 
"  I  saw  that  she  was  a  pretty  girl,  so  I  put  down  sixteen  rupees 
at  the  village  watering  place  and  carried  her  off."  On  which 
the  cunning  fellow  said,  "  You  must  be  blind,  my  friend ;  she 
may  be  a  pretty  girl,  but  both  her  eyes  are  burst.  Did  you 
not  see  that  ?  Why,  look  at  them  now.  The  water  is  running 
from  them  in  streams.  What  are  you  going  to  do  with  a  girl 
like  that  ? " 

On  hearing  that,  the  lad  wanted  to  exchange  the  girl  for  the 
plough  ox,  and  the  man  cunningly  pretended  to  be  unwilling, 
but  was  finally  persuaded  by  the  simpleton's  importunacy,  and 
said,  "There,  take  it,  and  begone."  So  the  exchange  was 
effected,  and  each  quickly  went  his  own  way,  mightily  pleased 
with  his  bargain. 

After  going  some  way,  the  boy  met  a  man  with  a  goat. 
This  man  too  sat  down.  After  a  while  the  ox  eased  itself,  and  th  e 
man  with  the  goat  said,  "  That  beast's  belly  is  burst,  and  in  a 
day  or  two  it  will  die."  The  simpleton,  believing  every  word 
he  said,  exchanged  his  ox  for  the  goat,  and  went  his  way. 
Presently  he  met  a  man  carrying  a  bunch  of  bananas,  and  sat 
down  beside  him.  But  the  goat  was  hungry  for  grass  and  kept 
wandering  about  and  crying  "  Ba  !  ba  ! "  so  that  his  master  got 
no  peace.  Now  the  word  "  ba  "  in  Kachari  means  "  Carry  me 
on  your  back."  So  the  boy  was  vexed,  and  crying  "  How  shall 
I  carry  you  on  my  back  when  I  am  so  tired  ?  "  exchanged  the 
goat  for  the  bunch  of  bananas.  And  again  each  went  his  way. 

By  chance  there  came  a  man  that  way  snapping  his  fingers. 
And  he  asked  for  the  bananas.  But  the  simpleton  said,  "  I  got 
those  bananas  in  exchange  for  a  goat,  and  you  ask  me  for  them  ! 
However,  if  you  really  want  to  eat  the  fruit,  teach  me  the  art  of 
.snapping  the  fingers,  and  you  shall  have  them."  After  an 
hour's  teaching,  he  had  learned  the  difficult  art,  more  or  less, 
and,  giving  up  the  bananas,  departed  snapping  his  fingers. 

Presently  he  came  to  a  fine  field  of  rice,  and  there  forgot  his 
new  art.  Fancying  he  had  lost  it  in  the  rice,  he  began  search- 
ing for  it  in  the  crop  as  women  search  for  lice  in  one  another's 
hair,  and  the  rice-field  was  all  trodden  down.  And  then 
the  owner  of  the  field  came  up  and  asked,  "  What  are 
you  looking  for  there  ? "  The  simpleton  said,  "  I  have  lost 
something  for  which  I  gave  sixteen  rupees.  If  you  will  join  me 
in  my  search,  I  shall  be  greatly  obliged."  So  the  man  searched 

APPENDIX    II  107 

too,  and  the  crop  suffered  greatly.  But  finding  nothing,  the 
man,  in  pure  vexation,  snapped  his  fingers.  On  which  the  lad, 
crying,  "  That  is  just  what  I  lost ! "  danced  away  gaily. 

Soon  after  he  paused  on  the  bank  of  a  pond,  and  again  forgot 
his  art,  and  began  wading  about  in  the  mud  looking  for  it. 
And  a  man  asked  him,  as  before,  what  he  had  lost.  So  he 
replied,  "  Something  for  which  I  gave  sixteen  rupees."  And  the 
man  joined  him  in  the  search,  and  both  became  covered  with 
mud  from  head  to  foot.  And,  since  they  found  nothing,  the 
man  grew  angry,  and  snapped  his  fingers.  On  which  the  boy 
cried  in  joy,  "  Good  sir,  that  is  what  I  lost ! "  and  danced  away 
to  his  home.  And  when  his  old  parents  saw  him  covered  with 
mud,  they  burst  out  laughing,  and,  until  they  heard  his  voice, 
did  not  know  who  he  was.  And  when  they  asked  what  he  had 
done  with  his  money,  he  explained  that  he  had  bought  a  girl, 
whom  he  had  exchanged  for  an  ox,  which  he  gave  in  exchange 
for  a  goat,  which  angered  him  by  ordering  him  to  .carry  it  on 
his  back,  so  that  he  exchanged  it  for  a  bunch  of  bananas,  which 
he  gave  in  exchange  for  the  art  of  snapping  his  fingers.  "  And 
what  else  did  you  expect  me  to  do  ? "  said  the  simpleton !  And 
that's  all ! 


The  tale  of  the  monkey  and  the  hare, 

Md-se  sessd  dru   mukhrd       zang         fisikhl1     man.     Sl-sUr 
One    hare  and  monkey   together   friendship   was.      They 
sd-nui    zang      ozai-nu 2   lugti  se     thd-i-u,   Iftgti  se  zd-i-u,  arti. 
two   together      ever     together    stayed,   together     ate,    and 
liigu  se 3   thd-baa-bai-i-u.      Obdsu     sdn-se     sd-se  Darrang-dr&i 
together  wandered  about.     Then   day-one     one    Darrang-ite 
mansui  goe     thdlit    Id-ndnui,   dldsl   zd-nu  thdng-nai  ndm-au 
man   betel  banana  bringing,   feast   to  eat      going       on  road 
Itigti      man-ndnui,  bl-siir       rai-lai-naise*        "be    mdnsui-nl 
meeting  obtaining,    they  speaking-exchanged,  this      man's 
goe    thdlit-fur-kho  zd-nu  lagi  zang-fur  buddi  man-se  kham-ww 
betel      bananas       to  eat   for        we      scheme    one     to  make 

1  Fi-sikhl ;  sikhi  =  friend  ;  fi  is  the  causal  prefix  which  also  occurs  in  the 
word  Ji-sd,  a  son  ;  i.e.  a  made  person,  "  the  being  you  cause  to  exist." 

2  Ozai  =  the  Assamese  haddi,  with  the  intensive  nu  added. 

3  Luguse  =  evidently,  the  Assamese  lagat. 

4  Rai  =  converse  ;  lai  =  mutually ;  naise  is  the  inflection. 


ndng-go"     han-ndnui,    sessd-kho    ndmau     thd-nu    thin-ndnui, 

must,  saying,  hare        on  road    to  stay      sending, 

mukhrd-i-d  hd-grd-i-au  hdkhmdnai  thd-naise.   Phdre   mansui-a 

monkey        forest  in         hidden        stay-ed.      Then      man 
man-fai-bd,  sessd-kho   nu-ndnui,  bl-bdn   din-ndnui,  hu-su-naise. 

reaching,      hare-to       seeing,       load       placing,        hunted. 
Hu-su-bd,     mukhrd-i-d    hdgrd-nl-frai    mdmdr    on-khdt-ndnui, 
Hunting,        monkey         forest-from      quickly       emerging, 
thdlit-fur-kho  Id-ndnui,  bong-fdng-au   gd-khu-hui-naise.1     Aru 
bananas          taking,         in  tree  clambered.  And 

"  sessd  fai-gan "  han-ndnui,     thdlit     goe-fur-kho  mdmdr     zd- 
"  hare  will  come "    saying,     bananas     betel-nuts    quickly  eat- 
grU-naise.     Aru    thdlit    bigur   bud  sessd-nu  din-naise. 
gobbled.      And  banana  skins  only  for  hare     placed. 
Emphdre    unau    sessd-kho    mdnsui-d    hom-nu    hd-i-d-khtiise 
Then        after      hare-to     the  man     to  seize    was-not-able 
dru    un-au    no-i-au2    tJidng-phd-phin-naise?     Obdsu    sessd-i-d 
and     after    to  house        go-away-back-did.  Then       hare 

gdbzri-Ui  gabzri-ui  thdng-ndnui,  fisikhl-kho  lugii  man-hui-ndnui, 
shouting  shouting        going,  friend   meeting   obtaining, 

gur          thdlit  bl-bd,  thdlit     bigur    bud   hu-naise. 

molasses    bananas    on  begging,    banana    skins    only     gave. 
Bi-ni-khai  sessd-i-d  brdp-ndntii,  "  be-kho  bdngai  dukhu  hugan," 
Therefore      hare    being  angry,  to  him    some  trouble  will  give 
mon-aw     nung-ndnui,    thdso-bdre*      sing-au      thd-hui-naise. 
in  mind      thinking,    Kachhu  plants     under     went  and  stayed. 
Un-au  mukhrd-i-d  bong-fdng-nl-frai  on-khdt-ndnui,  "  sikhl-lui, 
After      monkey  from  tree  descending,     oh,  friend, 

sikhi-lui  !  "  han-ui  han-ui,      gabzri      gdbzn  thdng-bd,  sessd-i-d 
oh  friend,     saying  saying,  shouting  shouting  going,        hare 
brdp-nd-nui   bung-naise,     "  md-thu 5      sikhl     sikhl    ltii  ? 2  Ang 
being  angry        said,         what's  this  "  friend  friend,"  eh  ?      I 
be-au-nu     raza-m       khuser6  ne-fai-dang.         Nang-nti 

here          king's      sugar-cane     am  come  to  watch.        You 
dng-kho    md-nu    ndng-go  ? "      Obd-su    mtikhrd-i-d    nu-zd-hui- 

of  me        what        Avant  ?  Then       monkey        going  and 

ndnUi 7  bung-naise,  "  he  sikhl,   khuser-kho  dng-nu   tho-se      hu, 
looking        said,        oh,  friend,  sugar-cane  to  me   one  bit  give, 

1  Gukhu,  =  climb ;  gakhu-Md  =  went  and  climbed. 

2  No  =  house  ;  au  =  datival  inflection  ;  the  i  is  inserted  for  euphony. 

3  Phd-phin  ;  an  infix  implying  "  returning." 

4  Thdso  may  perhaps  be  a  corruption  of  Assamese  kasu. 

5  Thu  and  lui  are  examples  of  idiomatic  expletives  which  are  practically 
untranslatable.     So  also  herd. 

6  Khuser  is  of  course  Assamese  khusiydr. 

7  NU  =  see  ;  zd  =  be,  become  3  htii  =  going. 

APPENDIX    II  109 

hera!     Bese  gathdu  dng  zd-nai  nl,"   han-bd,   sessd   bung-naise, 

do !       How  sweet      I     eating  see.    saying,   hare         said, 
"  Ang  nang-nu   hii-nu        hd-i-d.          Raza      khnd-bd    dng-kho 
I       to  you    to  give  am  not  able.     King  on  hearing     me 

bu-gan"        Theo-bu     bl        embrd-brd  bi-nai-khai, 

will  beat.      However  he   again  and  again   because  of  begging, 
"zd,      lui,     zd,1  dng  nang-zang      hd-lid,"      han-ndnui,    zd-nti 

eat,  there,  eat,     I      with  you   am  not  able,     saying,      to  eat 
hu-naise.     Phdre  bl  zd-ndnui,  sdld-i-au     man-bd,   "  sikhl,    dng 

gave.        Then  he    eating,   on  tongue  catching,    friend,     I 
thoi-naise,"  han-ndnui,        babrdp-bai-bd,  sessd  bung-naise, 

am  killed,       saying,    wandering  distractedly,  hare         said, 
"nang  gagai-nu    dukhu  man-dang.     Ang    dd     nang-kho   ma 

you     your  own  trouble  procured.         I     now      to  you    what 
kham-gan  ? "  han-ndnui,  bere-jothd-nl   baha  sing-au      thd-hui- 

shall  do  ?          saying,        hornets  of      nest     under     went  and 

naise.     Mukhrd-bu       un          un       gabzrl-ndnui  thdng-ndnui, 
stayed.    Monkey-too  behind  behind      shouting  g°mg> 

am  nu-zd-hui-nai-sui-ld-i-u.2  "  Sikhl,     nang      md 

also    went  and  watched  him  with  care.       Friend,     you     what 
khdm-dang  ?  "     bung-bd,    sessd  khithd-naise,  "  dng  raza-7M  zothd 

are  doing  ?       on  saying,  hare         said,  I     king's   drum 

ne-dang,"     han-bd,  "  Sikhi,  dng-nu  bdngai  dam-nil  hu,  herd  / " 
am  guarding,  saying,    friend,  to  me  a  little  to  play  give,    do  ! 
Sessd-i-d  bung-naise,  "  uh  I  dng  hd-i-d,   herd ;   raza     khnd-bd 

Hare  said,  oh !     I    cannot,   truly,  king  on  hearing 

dng-kho      bu-thdt-gan,"        bung-bd  bu,          embrd-brd        "dng 

me        beating  will  kill,    saying  even,    again  and  again       I 

lasui-s^t     ddm-gan,    herd,"  han-ndnui,    bere    bdhd-kM  dkhai- 

very  lightly  will  play,  really,     saying,    hornets'    nest       hand- 

phdt-ne       zang      bu-zdp-naise.        Obdnu   bere-frd   mukhang,3 
palms-two     with    beat  and  broke.      Then    hornets         face, 
megon,  modom?  gdsenu       ot-phop-bd        mukhrd-i-d  gdp-khrau 

eyes,      body,         all      stinging-hurting     monkey       howling 

1  Zd  =  eat  (the  imperative  is  always  the  bare  root,  as  in  so  many  other 
languages).      The  word   reminds   me  of  a   little   story   which    shows    the 
perplexities  of  bilingual  people.      A   Kachari   went  to   see  his    Assamese 
mother-in-law,  who  provided  food  and  hospitably  said  (in  Assamese)  "  Khd, 
kha."     On  which  her  son-in-law,  obeying  her  injunction  in  Kachari,  bound 
her  hand  and  foot.     Seeing  his  mistake,  she  laughed  and  said,  in  Kachari, 
"  Zd,  zd."     On  which  he,  much  puzzled,  went  away  ! 

2  A  good   example   of  the  agglutinative   verb,   for  which  in    Hinduised 
Kachari    would    be    substituted  a  long   succession   of  participles,   such   as 
WM-naniii,  zd-ndniii,  thdng-ndnui,  etc.     It  is  impossible,  of  course,  to  translate 
all  the  infixes  severally. 

3  Perhaps  mukhang  is  Assamese,  as  well  as  dtheng  which  occurs  elsewhere, 
and  modom  may  be  badan. 


gap-si  ba-brdp-bai-naise.1      Obdnia   sessd-i-d   bung-naise,  "any 
yelling   wandered  about.         Then     monkey         said,  I 

du-hui-nu    nang-nu    khithd-dangman,    theobu    nang    khordng 
repeatedly     to  you  said,  yet        you       word 

Id-i-d.        Ang  md  khdm-gan  ?  "  han-ndnui,  dru    ddp-se-au 
accepted-not.    I    what  shall  do  ?          say-ing,    and  field-one-in 
zi&o-gowal-m  khathi-aw  thd-hui-naise.         Azang-hd     mukhrd 
a  kind  of  snake     near     went  and  stayed.  Accordingly  monkey 
bu     khl-thu    khl-thu  thdng-ndnui  bung-naise,  "dru  be-au  lai 
too     behind    behind        going  said,          and  there  eh  ? 

nang     md    khdm-dang,  hera  ? "     Sessd  bung-naise,  "  dng  raza- 
you    what    are  doing,     say  ?        Hare        said,  I     king- 

lung-hd-nl 2  sama-lauthi     ne-dang,       herd  !  "   bung-bd,  "  Sikhl, 
people-of         sceptre     am  watching,     sir !         saying,    friend, 
dng-nu-bu   hu,  herd  !  dng  bdngai  ddng-nai-ni."    Bl     "  hu-d  " 
to  me  too  give,  do !       la  little  wield  and  see.    He  "not  give" 
han-bd-bu        embrd-brd       ddng-nai-ndnui  be-au-bu   bl      zibo- 
saying-even  again  and  again      wielding        then-also  he  snake- 
zang     ot-zd-naise.z       Bl-ni-frai  sessd  thdng-ndnui  photo-bdre-au 
by  bitten  be-came.  There-from  hare      go-ing          marsh-in 

thd-hui-naise.       Mukhrd    bu      gabzri       gdbzrl    thdng-ndnui, 
went  and  stayed.    Monkey  also  shouting  shouting       go-ing, 
dru     lugu          Id-hui-ndnui      sessd-kho  sung-bd,  bl  bung-naise, 
and  meeting  going  and  getting  hare-to    asking,  he        said, 
"be-kho-nu    raza-m       dola         han-ndnui    bung-u."      Mukhrd 
This          king's    palanquin       saying          call.          Monkey 
bung-naise,  "  Sikhl,  dng  bdngai    uthl-nai    nl,  herd  !  "  bung-bd, 
said,         friend,     I    a  little  ascending  see,  please !    saying, 
"uh!  dng   hu-nu         hd-i-d.          Raza   khnd-bd  dng-kho     md 

oh !      I    to  give  am  not  able.     King    hearing    to  me     what 
bung-gan?      Nang       md-bd      dbrd   mansiii,   hera!     khordng 
will  say  ?        You     what  sort    fool       man,        eh !          Word 
khithd-bd-bu  khnd-song-d,"   bung-bd-bu,     mukhrd-i-d,    "  nong-d, 
saying-even      not  heed,      saying-even,       monkey,        no,  no, 
herd  sikhl,      do-se      bud    uihl-gan,"    han-ndnui,  photo-bdre-au 
oh   friend,  one  bit  only  will  ascend,      saying,         on  marsh 
bdt-drum-bd,    godo-hd-\agi     thrup     thdng-naise.      Obdsu    sessd 
jumping,        neck-up  too      flop  stuck.  Then     hare 

khithd-naise,  "  duhui    thdht      zd-ndnui   bigur         hu-nai-d, 
said,  "  now  bananas      eating       skin    giving-(person), 

1  Ba-brap-bai-naise    =    wandered    distractedly    about.       The    infix    bai 
signifies  wandering,  and  babrdp  being  in  pain  or  wrath. 

2  H,aza,-l&Tig-hd-ni  =  a  literal  translation  of  Assamese  raja-hatar. 

3  An  instance  of  the  rare  passive,  a  manifest  imitation  of  the  Assamese 
idiom-ot-za-nu,  "bit-become-to,"  to  be  bitten. 


be-nu,   herd   sikhl,     nang     be-au-nu     thd-du !    Any  nang-kho 
here,     oh    friend,     you,   there-even     stop !          I          you 

khulum-bai !  Ang     thdng-naise,"     han-ndnui,     In 

pay  you  my  reverence !         I         am  going,  saying,        he 

mukhrd-kho    be-au-nu  gdr-lai-naise. 
the  monkey      there       left  behind. 

Obasd  unau        bl-thing  ganda      md-se  fai-nai   nu-bd, 

Then   after   that-direction  rhinoceros     one    coming  seeing, 

bi-kho    mukhrd-i-d    dikhdng-nu    thing -dangman.      Gdndd-i-d 

to  him      monkey       to  extricate       was  ordering.      Rhinoceros 

bung-naise,  "  dng-hd  ukhui-sui-dang  aru.     dui-gdng-stii-dang  ; 

said,  I     hungry- very-am  and  water-thirsty- very-am ; 

dng   nang-kho   dikhdng-nu        hd-i-d,"      han-ndnui,    bl    thdng- 
I          you       to  extricate   am  not  able,     saying,       he    went 

Bl-ni  un-au    aru     moesu    md-se   fai-nai-au,      bl-kho-bu 
There  after     also    buffalo     one      on  coming,    to   him  also 
khithd-dangman.       Bl-bu     khnd-song-d-ld-bd  blot    thdng-naise. 
said.  He  also     not  attending     pop !    went  away. 

Boi-nu-khri  khi-zap-au1  mosd   md-se      ukhui-su-ndnui         bi- 
Than  him    tail-end-at     tiger     one    hungry-very-being   that- 
thing      thdng-dangman.     Mukhrd  nu-ndnui  bung-naise,  "  he 
direction       was  going.         Monkey      seeing         said,         Oh 
dfd,    nang  dng-kho   be    dukhu-m-frai      dikhdng-d-bd      arii 
father,  you    to   me  this   trouble-from   if  (you)  extricate  other 
raubo          dikhdng-lia,"       "  han-ndnui,   gahdm-ui    khulum-nu 
anyone   extricate  will  not,         saying,  well         to  worship 

hom-naise.       Theo-bu    bl,  "  dng  nang-kho  dikhdng-ndntii     md 
began.  Still      he,        I        you  extricating     what 

man-gan  ? "     han-ndnui,       klwzo-ne-su       thdng-bd,  mukhrd-i-d 
shall  get  ?  saying,      paces-two-about    going       monkey 

bung-naise,       "  dfd,      nang     dng-kho      be     photo-bdre-ni-frai 

said,  father,      you         me        this          marsh-from 

dikhdng-ndnui          hd-bru-fur-kho  su-srd-ndniii,  dng-kho 

extricating       muddiness  (lit.  "  muds ")     cleansing  me 

nang   zd"   han-bd,  bl,       ukhui-su-nai-khai         be      khoi'dng-au 
you    eat,    saying  he   hungriness-because-of  that         word 
khnd-song-ndnui,   bl-kho   bung-naise,  "  dng  nang-kho  zd-nu  mon 
hearkening       to  him         said  I          you      to  eat  mind 

gui-d,         mandthu,      be-baidi      dukhu-aw       gaglai-nai-kho 
have  not,     however,      that  sort     trouble-in     fallen  (person)  to 
dikhdng-d-bd,    dng-hd  gahdm    zd-gan.       Theo-bu      gaigai-nii 
extricate-not-if,        I         good      will-be.      However     yourself 
1  An  expressive  phrase  for  "  last  of  all." 


zasl-ndnui     hunai-i-au,    dng   zd-nu    hdgo,"     han-ndnui,  bl-nl 
beseeching      on  giving       I    to  eat  am  able,      saying,        his 
lanzai-Mo  phol-au  hot-bd,1  mukhrd-i-d  bl-nl  Idnzai-au  hom-ba, 
tail-      in  marsh  sending,    monkey      his        tail         seizing 
dikhdng-bu-naise.       Mukhrd  khithd-naise,    "  dfd,  nang  dng-kho 
dragged  him  out.      Monkey         said         Father,  you       me 
dd-nid  modom-fur-kJw  gahdm-ui  su-srd,  emphare    rdn-bd  zd," 

now       body  (plural)          well         dry,        after       drying  eat, 
han-ndnui  sdn-dung-au     do-se    zo-bai  thd-dangman.  Ere-au-nu 

saying      sun-shine-in  one  bit  sitting     remained.          Then 
mosd-i-d      phdt-se-thing        nai-ne-au,    bl  bong-fang-au  fdt- 

tiger   one  other  direction  on  looking   he        in  tree       helter- 

drdp    gd-khu-naise.       Mosd   be-kho    nu-ndntii,     brdp-ndnui, 

skelter     clambered.        Tiger     him         seeing,      angry-being, 

bongfdng         g\iri-au-nu     sdn-ne    sdn-thdm      ne-bai  thd-naise. 

tree  root  at     days-two  days-three  watch-ing  stay-ed. 

Be-baidi     thd-ndnui,     khugd     sl-ndnui,       hdthai         hdzlzl 
This- way       stay-ing,        jaws       gap-ing         teeth          display 
kham-nan^,        thoi-thl-ndnui       tha-naisc,     aru     thdmfai-frd 

making        dead-pretend-ing       stay-ed,      and          flies 
khugd-i-au  brung-brung       han-lai-nu        hom-naise.    Be-au-nu 

mouth  in     buzz  buzz   to  continue  to  stay    began.      Thereon 
mukhrd-i-d  ose       ose          thoi-mdt-bai    nung-ndnui,     bongfdng 

monkey     by  degrees    dead-verily-is      thinking,          tree 
bizo-nl-frai      lase        lase     onkhdt-hu-ndnui,     agla    l&se-i-hai 

top-from      slowly    slowly          descending,      first     carefully 
lanzai    khugau  su-nai-grti-bd-bu  mosd     mung-bo 

tail      in  jaw      insert-examine-feel-ing-even    tiger    anything 
khdm-d-khuise.     Aru    un-au  dtheng    thdng-se  su-ndnui  hu-nai. 

did  not  do.       And     after      leg  one     inserting     gave. 

Be-au-bu    mungbo  khdm-d-khuise.    Obdsu    mulch  rd    bung-naise, 
Thereon  anything     did  not  do.       Then    monkey        said, 
"nang       dng-nl       dtheng-fur-kho       khrem-khrem       ot-ndnui 

you  my  legs —  crunch-crunch        biting 

zd-gauman,  lanzai-Mo          khrem-khrem          ot-ndnui 

would  have  eaten,  tail  crunch-crunch          biting 

zd-gauman"       Juin-ndnui,   rong  zd-ndnui,  "  dd-nid  dng-nl 
would  have  eaten,       saying,     happy  becoming,     Now       my 
khoro-kho-nu  zd,"  han-ndnui,  khug-au  su-ndnui     hu-bd,    obdnu 

head-also     eat,     saying,     in  mouth  inserting    giving,    then 
mosd-i-d  khrem     ot-khrep-naise.    Thoi-bai.      Zap-bai ! 
tiger     scrunch  bite-crunch-did.     Died !      Finished  ! 

1  Lit.  "throwing." 

GROUP  OK  KACHAKI  MKN  (Kamrup  District). 

Prom  a  I'hotofrafili  l>y  Mrs.   H.  A.  Colquhoiin. 

APPENDIX    II  113 


The  Monkey  and  the  Hare. 

A  monkey  and  a  hare  were  great  friends.  They  ever  lived 
together,  ate  together,  and  went  about  together.  One  day 
meeting  a  man  from  Darrang  going  to  a  feast  with  a  load  of 
bananas  and  other  delicacies,  they  said  to  one  another,  "We 
must  get  what  that  man  is  carrying  by  some  trick  or  other." 
Whereupon  the  monkey  bade  the  hare  stay  on  the  road,  while 
he  himself  hid  in  the  forest.  Presently  the  man,  seeing  the 
hare,  put  down  his  load  and  ran  after  it.  On  which  the  monkey, 
coming  out  from  the  jungle,  carried  off  the  bananas  and  other 
things.  And  for  fear  the  hare  should  come  and  ask  his  share, 
the  monkey  hastily  gobbled  up  the  bananas  and  betel-nuts  and 
kept  the  skins  only  for  his  friend. 

The  man,  not  being  able  to  catch  the  hare,  went  home,  and 
then  the  hare,  shouting  aloud,  searched  for  the  monkey,  and, 
when  he  found  him,  demanded  his  share  of  the  spoil,  and  only 
got  the  skins.  So,  being  vexed,  he  determined  to  have  his 
revenge.  And  first  he  went  and  hid  under  some  acrid  kachu 
plants.  And  when  the  monkey  came  and  asked  what  he  was 
doing,  he  replied,  "  My  friend,  I  have  the  honour  to  be  in  charge 
of  the  king's  sugar-canes."  So  the  monkey  said,  "  Ah,  give  me 
just  a  bit,  do."  But  the  hare  replied,  "And  what  do  you 
suppose  the  king  will  say  ? "  But  the  monkey  was  importunate. 
So  the  hare  gave  him  a  stalk  of  kachu  to  chew,  and  when  the 
acrid  juice  stung  his  tongue,  the  monkey  began  dancing  about 
howling.  But  the  hare  coolly  said,  "  It's  all  your  own  fault ! 
You  would  have  a  stick  of  the  king's  sugar-cane,  and  what  could 
I  do?" 

Then  the  hare  went  and  took  up  his  post  under  a  hornet's 
nest,  and  the  monkey  came  along,  shouting  for  his  friend,  and, 
finding  him  asked,  "  What  may  you  be  doing  there  ? "  And  the 
hare  replied,  "  I  am  guarding  the  king's  drum,  so  there ! " 
"Ah,"  said  the  monkey,  "do  let  me  beat  the  king's  drum!" 
"Oh,  but  I  cannot,"  said  the  hare,  "the  king  will  be  angry." 
But  the  monkey  insisted,  and  said,  "  I  will  play  on  .the  drum 
very  gently ;  you  see ! "  So  the  hare  consenting,  the  monkey 
clapped  his  two  palms  on  the  hornet's  nest  and  broke  it,  so  that 
the  hornets  emerged,  and  stung  him  sore,  so  that  he  screamed 
with  pain.  But  the  hare  only  said,  "  You  would  have  your  way, 
and  what  was  I  to  do  ?  " 

114  APPENDIX    II 

Next  the  hare  went  and  sat  down  near  a  goical  snake.  And 
the  monkey  came  shouting,  and  asked,  "  What  are  you  about 
now,  my  friend  ? "  The  hare  replied,  "  I  am  now  in  charge  of 
the  king's  sceptre  !  "  On  which  the  monkey  said,  "  Ah,  let  me 
just  wield  the  king's  sceptre  for  a  moment ! "  But  the  hare 
answered,  "  I  cannot  do  that,  for  the  king  will  be  angry."  But 
the  monkey  being  importunate,  he  consented.  Whereupon,  of 
course,  the  snake  bit  him,  and  he  howled  with  pain. 

Then  the  hare  went  and  sat  in  a  marshy  place,  and  the 
monkey  came  shouting  in  search  of  him,  and  asked  what  he  was 
doing.  And  the  hare  told  him  he  was  sitting  on  the  king's 
litter.  "  Ah,"  prayed  the  monkey,  "  let  me  too  sit  on  the  king's 
litter."  But  the  hare  said  angrily,  "  And  what  do  you  suppose 
the  king  will  say  ?  It  strikes  me  you  are  a  fool,  my  friend,  and 
listen  to  no  warning ! "  But  the  monkey,  insisting,  leaped  into 
the  marsh,  sank  up  to  his  neck,  and  stuck  there  miserably.  On 
which  the  hare  leaped  out  and  cried,  "  Now,  my  kind  friend, 
you  who  eat  bananas  and  give  me  the  skins,  you  can  just  stay 
where  you  are  !  My  compliments  !  I  am  off ! "  So  saying,  he  left 
him  to  his  fate. 

Presently  a  rhinoceros  came  that  way,  and  the  monkey  begged 
him  to  extricate  him.  But  the  rhinoceros  remarked  that  he 
was  hungry  and  thirsty  and  on  his  way  home  to  dinner,  and 
went  his  way.  And  a  buffalo  also  passed  by  and  refused  to 
help.  Finally  a  tiger  came,  extremely  ravenous.  And  the 
monkey  entreated  him  respectfully  to  pull  him  out ;  but  the 
tiger  said  he  did  not  see  how  it  would  profit  him  to  come  to  his 
rescue.  But  when  he  had  gone  some  two  paces,  the  monkey 
called  after  him,  "  Look  here,  if  you  will  drag  me  out  of  the 
marsh,  you  can  clean  me  of  the  mud,  and  eat  me  ! ''  And  since 
the  tiger  was  extremely  hungry,  he  consented  and  said,  "  It  is 
not  that  I  have  any  particular  desire  to  eat  you,  but  if  I  do  a 
good  deed,  I  shall  get  virtue.  However,  as  you  are  good  enough 
to  insist,  I  am  willing  to  make  a  meal  of  you."  So  saying,  he 
put  his  tail  into  the  marsh,  and  the  monkey,  catching  hold  of  it, 
was  slowly  dragged  forth.  On  which  the  monkey  said,  "  Now 
let  me  dry  myself  in  the  sun,  and  when  the  mud  is  dry  you  can 
scrape  it  off  and  eat  me."  So  he  sat  in  the  sun,  and  the  tiger 
waited  hungrily.  But  the  monkey  seized  the  opportunity  when 
the  tiger  chanced  to  look  another  way,  and  clambered  up  a  tree. 
At  that  the  tiger  was  very  angry,  and  waited  two  or  three  days 
at  the  foot  of  the  tree.  Finally  he  pretended  to  die  of  starvation 
and  lay  there  with  his  mouth  open  and  his  great  teeth  showing. 
So  the  monkey  climbed  down,  slowly  and  cautiously.  And  the 
tiger  lay  quite  still,  so  that  the  flies  came  and  buzzed  in  his 

APPENDIX    II  115 

mouth.  And  first  the  monkey  carefully  put  his  tail  in  the 
tiger's  mouth.  But  he  never  stirred.  Then  the  monkey  thrust 
his  leg  in  the  tiger's  mouth,  and  still  he  did  not  move.  "  Ah," 
said  the  monkey,  in  great  glee,  "  you  would  have  gobbled  up  my 
tail,  and  scrunched  up  my  limbs,  would  you  ? "  And  so  saying, 
the  silly  creature  thrust  his  head  in  the  tiger's  mouth.  And 
the  jaws  closed  with  a  scrunch,  and  the  monkey  died,  and 
that's  all ! 


The  story  of  the  merchant  lad. 

Sd-se      udu-i-au-nu       bifd         thoi-zd-nai  gotho    dangman. 
One     womb-in-even    father   dead-becoming  boy          was. 
Phare     azi         azi          khali          khali       bl   ge-det      zd-bd 
Then    to-day  to-day  to-morrow  to-morrow  he     big     becoming 
sdn-se       blmd-nl-au     sung-naise,       "  ai,        agla    zang-fur-hd 
day-one     mother's  to       ask-ed,      mother,   before   us  people-'s 
dfd-i-d,   lai,    ma    mau-ndnui  zd-dangman  ? "  han-bd,  blmd-i-d 
father,   now,  what  labouring          eat-did  saying     mother 

hdmd   su-ndnui  khithd-naise,     "nam-fd-i-d     desii        desti 
breath     sighing  said,  your  father  country  country 

fdldngi      khdm-ndnui     zd-dangman.         Bl     thd-bld,          dd 
hawking          doing          used  to  eat.         He  remained-if   now 
zang-frd  ese-bu  dukhu    zd-i-d-man,"  han-bd,  bi  bung-naise,  "  uh, 
we        thus  trouble  should  not  eat,  saying  he      said,          Eh, 
obd   any    bi   hdbd-kho       hd-i-d       na  ?      bese       thaka     dang, 
then    I    that  work  for  able-am-not  eh  ?  as  many  rupees      are, 
dng-nii   dihon-ndnui    hu,"  han-bd,  blmd-i-d   bung-naise,  "  dfd,1 
to  me      producing     give,  saying,    mother         said,         father 
nang     bl-baidi     Jchdm-nu     nang-d,     dng       bi-ui         gdrj-ui 
you     this-way        to  do       must-not,      I      beg-ging    weeping 
nang-nu  zd-hti-gan.  Nang       malai-nl       dekhu-aw 

you  to  eat-give-will.  You          foreign  land-in 

thdng-ndnui      md-brHi-bd       thoi-bd       bet-bd      dng     md-brHi 
going         what  way-ever    dying    perishing     I    what   way 
thd-gan?."      Theobu  gotho-d   Jchnd-song-d-ldbd,        embrd-brd 
stay-will  ?         Still       boy          not  hearing        again  and  again 
b^md-nl-a^t,    thaka   bl-ndnui  Id-ndnui        bastu          bai-naise, 
mother-from   rupees  begging    taking    merchandise      bought 
1  "Father"  used  affectionately  for  "child." 

I  2 


arii      nau       gong-se      namai-nanui,      Id-naise,     aril     gdsenu 
and      boat         one  seeking  took       and         all 

zo          xd-bd,  mansui       sd-nui-su       hom-ndnui       blmd 

fit        becoming,        men          about  two          seizing        mother 

burui-Mo       khulum-ndnui  tndlai-nl  dekhu-cm   nau     aang 
old  woman-to     worshipping      foreign       country      boat     with 
thang-naise.        JBe-baidi-nu       thdng-ul  thdng-ui    garni    dot-se 

went.  This-manner-in     going        going      village    one 

dui-gathan-au   nau-kho  khd-ndnui,    garni      garni       basthu 
water-ghaut-at     boat       binding,     village   village  merchandise 
phdn-hu-naise,       Bi     gdgai      nau        ne-u.          Be-baidl-nU 
hawking-send-did   He   himself    boat   watched.       This-way-in 
thd-tii        thd-ui       be-au-na      sur-bd  brai  burui 

stay-ing     stay-ing       there        certain     old  man    old  woman 

sd-nui-hd     hangsu  gafut  md-se   dang  man.     Bi-nu   bi-sur-vti 
two-people-of    swan   white    one          was.  It          they 

dui  la-ui     mikhdm  song-Hi          hu-grd-man.  Bl-kho-nu 

water-giving      rice     cooking   gave  and  cherished.        It-itself 
sdn-se      bl    gotho-d  dui-gathdn-au   gagai-nl  h&ugsu-bigur-kho 
one  day  that     boy     water-ghaut-at   its  own         swan-skin 
khii-ndniii  din-ndnui   dru  mazdng  sikhld-sd  zd-ndnui   dugui-nai 
shedding     placing      and   lovely       girl      becoming  bathing 
nu-naise.  Bl-rii-frai-nti  boi     hangsu-m     girima 

saw.          From-that    (time)  even     that       swan's        owners 

brai-burui-fcAo         on-su-ndnui   tJiau   dru   bl-ni  nau-aw    zl 

old  man  old  woman        loving         oil      and    his    ship-in  what 

zl  basthu  dang,     oz&i-nu    bdngai    bdngai       hu-nu 

what     merchandise      was,      always      some       some       to  give 

hom-naise.       Bl-baidl-nu      basthu-^?'-Mo     fdn-ui      fdn-ui 

began.          This-way-in      merchandises     vending     vending 

fdn-zap-bd        nS-i-au    fai-nai  so-nai-khai  bi 

sale- finished-being  to  house    come    concluding-because  of  that 

brai  burui-n%        nS-i-au      thdng-ndnui,    thaka     zdbrd 

old  man     old  woman's    house-to  going        money     much 

hUndn'tii,    hangsu-ZcAo      bl-bd,        brai  burui         "  erc-nu 

giving  swan         begging   old  man   old  woman,  "  as  it  is 

Idng,"     han-ndnui      bung-dangman,     khintu    bl       fafu-n<m# 
take "      saying,  said  but        he     sin-smitten 

zd-nti,      gl-ndnui,     brai-w?        gndng  basthu-^Aai 

to  become    fearing     old  man's  belonging   property  because  of 

embrd-brd     thaka   hu-ndnui,  hangsft-Mo  Idbo-naise. 
importunately  rupees     giving          swan       took  away. 

IH-nl-frai    nau  Id-ndn&i,  fai-tii    fai-ui,      no          man-fai- 

There  after  boat    taking,  coming  coming,  house  reach-corn- 

APPENDIX    II  117 

ndnui,      azl-bti,        thd-i-ti,        khali-Z>#         thd-i-ti,     fa    hangsu 

ing,    to-day-too    staying   to-morrow-too  staying    he     swan 
mansui          zd-i-e         nu-ndnUi,     sdn-frim-bu    hdm-ldng-na'ise. 

man      becomes-not      seeing,       day-each-on       sick  became. 
Bl-kho-nu  nu-ndnui  bimd       burui-a       malai-nl-au      sung-bd 

To  him      seeing  mother  old  woman  strangers-from  on  asking 
bai-bd        rau-bu     mung-bti,   khithd-nu      hd-i-d.         Khintu 
frequenting  anyone   anything      to  say      was  unable.        But 
bi-au-nu       burui        sd-se   dangman.     Bi-nl-au    sung-bd,      Jn 

there     old  woman    one         was.  Her      on  asking,  she 

bung-naise,    "  agui,   nang  bl-kho-nu    mithi-d-khui      na?       El 

said,          sister,    you       that      understood-not    eh?     That 
fdldngl  kham-wa^  thang-nai-au    md-bd         man-se       zd-dang. 
hawking     doing         going-in   something  one  thing  happened. 
Nang  bl-kho  buddi  kham-6a,     mithi-nti,          hd-gan,"     han-bd, 

You  to  him  trick      doing,  to  understand  will  be  able,  saying, 

Mmd          burui-a          bung-naise,      "  khitha-horl-?iai,        ai 
mother     old  woman  said,  speak-out-do,      mother 

burui,       dhorom  man-gan"  han-bd     bl  khitha-naise,  "nang 
old  woman,   virtue     get  will,     saying,  she         said,  you 

san-se     sd-se    sikhld-sd    labo-ndnui    nang-nl    gotho-ni    thema 
one  day     one          girl  taking          your         boy's        lice 

nai-nu      thin.       Aru   thema     naibai      thd-nai-au-nu    gdp- 
to  search    order.      And      lice    searching      in  staying      weep- 

thi-ndnai          sting-thdng,        "nang        md-nu        sdn-frim-bH 
pretend-ing        let  her  ask,  you  why          day  by  day 

hdm-ldng-dang  ? "     Obdnti     M     lk-kho      on-khdng-ndnUi     li-ni 

waste  away  ?  Then     he     to  her     feeling  affection      his 

mon-aw      zi      khordng  dang,   lil   khithd-gan,"   han-bd,     blmd 
mind-in  what     word        is,       he      say-will,       saying,  mother 
bl-laidi-nu   khdm-naise.     Hingzausd-i-d  themd  nai-nai-au-nil 
that-way-in         did.  Girl  lice    while  searching 

gdp-thi-ndnui      gongrai  surukhil  surukhu  sung-naise,    "  ddd- 
weep-pretend-ing   snottle    snuffle     snuffle       ask-ed,  brother- 

lui,  nang-hd-lai  md         xddang  ?          Nang  be-kho  khithd-i-d- 
mine,     to  you      what  has  happened  ?     You     that     if  do  not 

bd,  dng  bu  khdm   dui        zd-i-d"  han-nai-khai     gotlio-d, 

say,     I    too   rice  water  will  not  eat,  because  of  saying    boy, 
hdmd    m-ndnui,     bl-nii       lase         lase       khithd-naise,     "  dng 
breath     sighing,     to  her    slowly     slowly  said,  I 

fdldngl  kham-mt  ihdng-nai-i-au     da     dng-ni   n&\i-i-au      zi 
trading     to  do          on  going       indeed     my       boat  in    which 

1  Hor  =  hot  =  "  throw." 


hangsu  gafut  md-se  dang,   blkho    raanstii  zd-nai  nu-dangman. 

swan    white    one       is,         it        man  becoming       saw. 
Khintu   In,    da      baidi-sui-ui-nu    thd-bai.       Bl-m-Tchai       dng 

But      it   now   manner-same-in     stays.     Because  of  that    I 

ere-baidi        zd-dang."       Themd          nai-khdng-bd  be 

this  manner  am  become.       Lice    seeking-finished-being   those 
gdsenu    khordng    hingzausd-i-d    bl-nl     temd-nu      khithd-naise. 

all         words  girl  his     mother-to  said. 

Be-kho  blmd-i-d  khnd-ndnui   boi       burui-m£      khithd-hui-naise 
To  her   mother     listening    that  old  woman-to    sent  and  said 
Id-i-u.         Burui-a     bl-kho  khnd-ndnui  buddi   hu-naise  ld-l-u, 
exactly.     Old  woman  to  her    listening    wisdom    gave     verily, 
"  nang    dini      boi  hingzausd-kho  Idbo-ndnui  khithd-ndnui    hu, 

you     to-day  that  girl  bringing         saying         give 

bl    dim        hor-au         udu-ldng-thl-ndnui    thd-thdng.        Hor 
he  to-day  night-in  sleep-deep-pretend-ing  remain-let.     Night 
gezer-bd  hangsu-a         mansui       zd-ndnui         gagai-nl 

much-being  swan  man         becoming  own 

modai-fur-kho    khulum-bai-thd-i-u.       Be-au-nu     In       hangsu 
gods  is  wont  to  worship.       Thereon    that       swan 

bigur-kho        zuzai-mu-au         su-ndnui  hu-bd,          obdnid 

skin  hearth-on          thrusting        placing,         thereon 

mansui-?m  thd-si-gan."  Be     buddi    hu-nai-baidi-nti, 

man-indeed  stay-altogether-will.    That  wisdom  giving-like-even 
blmd-i-d    hingzausd-nu    khithd-naise,    dru    hingzausd-i-d     bu 
mother  girl-to  said  and  girl  also 

gotho-nu  khithd-ndnui       hu-nai-khai,        sdn-se    gotho-d  khumi 
boy-to         saying       because  of  giving,  one  day     boy     vessel 
gong-se-au    khdre-zang     thau-zang    golai-ndnui    din-nai,     arii 

one  in       ashes-with     oil-with          mixing         placed      and 

songor         man-se       din-naise.  Hor  zd-bd  bl 

yak's  tail  one  placed.  Night      becoming       he 

udui-thi-ldng-ndnui          tha-5a,     hangsu-a    si-khdng-ndnui 
sleep-pretend-slumber-ing    staying,       swan  emerging 

dkhd-i-au  dtheng-au  modom-au-bU  khepthu-bai-dang.     Theobii  Li 
on  hand,      on  leg     on  body  also     felt  (with  beak)        Still   he 
khet-khut  khdmd-khuise.      Bl-nl-Tchai    bl       udu-ldng-mdt-bai 
stirring        made  not.  Therefore    he    asleep-deep-truly-is 

nung-ndnui,       gagai-nl   hangsu   bigur-kho  la,se-hai  khu-ndnui 

thinking,         her  own     swan         skin       slowly  unfastening 
din-ndnui      gagai-nl      modai-fur-kho         mon  hu-ndnui, 

placing         her  own  gods-to  mind  giving, 

khvilum-bai-thd-dangman.  Ere-au-nu       srl-srl       \ase-hai 

worshipping-staying-was.  So  still-still      slowly 

APPENDIX    II  119 

si-kkdng-nd-n&i         boi      hangsti        bigur-khd  thapne-hai 

emerging  that       swan  skin  suddenly 

zuzai-mu-au        e-fop-ndnui        din-naise.  Unau        bigur-d 

in  hearth  thrusting  placed.  Then        skin 

khdm-ndnui.         mandm-khdng-bd,          bl-Jcko        mandm-ndnili 

scorching,  smell-emerging,  that  smelling 

man-ndnui,    "  dng-kho     md      kham-&M,      md     kh&m-khu  / " 
obtaining,      To  me      what     have  done,    what      have  done  ? 
han-ndntii,      fdt-drdp-do      gaglai-ndnui,     khdng-grdng-ndn&i, 

saying,       hither-thither    falling  about,          rolling  about, 

thoi-hdp-ndnui      thd-naise.     Obdsti,  gotho-d  mdmdr  fai-ndnui 

half  dead  becoming     stayed.      Then      boy     quickly    coming 

khurui-m     thau-lthd    khoro-modom-dt1ieng-&khai-au     hu-ndn&i, 

vessel-of          oil         head  -  body  -   leg  -   arm  -  on      giving, 

songor      zang    sip-bai-thd-naise,     dru    bl-baidl-nH        sip-ui 
yak's  tail    with    continued  to  fan,    and    that-way-in    fanning 

sip-Hi  thd-bld,  gabau-zang  hdmd  sukhdng-naise,  drti 
fanning  on  staying,  with  delay  breath  sighed-forth  and 
thdng-khdng-naise.  JBi-baidi-nu  mansui  za-ndn&i, 

alive-became.  That-way-in  man  becoming, 

sd-nui-zang  hdbd       kh&m-lai-ndniii  zdbrd  din-hd-ldgi 

they-two-together  marriage    do-exchang-ing  many  days-up-to 
ft-sd  fisu  zang  rozo-nt-man-zd-lai-bai-thd-naise  !       Zapbai  ! 
boys  girls  with       "  lived  happily  ever  after."          Finished  ! 


The  story  of  the  merchant  lad. 

There  was  a  certain  lad  whose  father  died  before  he  was  born. 
And,  one  day,  when  he  had  grown  a  big  boy,  he  asked  his 
mother,  "What  did  my  father  do  for  his  living?"  And  his 
mother,  drawing  a  long  breath,  said,  "  Your  father  used  to  travel 
about  selling  things.  Ah,  if  he  were  alive  we  should  have 
no  trouble  to  endure ! "  But  the  boy  replied,  "  Do  not  you 
think  that  I  too  could  earn  money  in  that  way  ?  Bring  out 
what  money  there  is,  and  let  me  see  what  I  can  do."  But  his 
mother  said,  "  Ah,  my  son,  you  must  not  talk  like  that !  If  you 
go  away  into  foreign  lands  and  die  there,  what  will  become  of 
me  ? "  But  her  son  would  not  listen  to  her,  and  by  importunity 
induced  her  to  give  him  money,  with  which  he  bought  goods, 
and  procured  a  boat,  and  hiring  two  or  three  men,  took  leave  of 

120  APPENDIX    II 

his  mother,  and  went  into  a  far  country  to  trade.  Finally  he 
came  to  a  certain  place  where  he  moored  his  boat,  at  the  place 
where  men  draw  water,  and  sent  his  men  to  hawk  his  wares 
from  village  to  village  while  he  himself  stayed  in  the  boat.  It 
happened  that  there  lived  hard  by  an  old  couple  who  possessed 
a  white  swan,  which  they  fed  and  tended  as  though  it  were  their 
own  child.  One  day,  the  lad  saw  this  swan  strip  itself  of  its 
swan  plumage  and  become  a  beautiful  maiden,  and  bathe.  From 
that  time  forth  he  paid  great  attention  to  the  owners  of  the 
swan,  and  gave  them  presents  of  the  oil  and  other  things  he  had 
in  his  boat.  And  when  the  merchandise  had  been  sold  and  the 
time  was  come  to  go  home,  he  went  to  the  old  people's  house 
and  offering  much  money  begged  them  to  sell  him  their  swan. 
But  they  were  for  giving  him  their  swan  for  nothing.  He, 
however,  feared  to  commit  a  sin  if  he  took  it  as  a  gift,  and, 
because  it  was  the  old  man's  property,  compelled  him  to  take 
much  money  in  exchange  for  it,  and  went  away. 

But  when  he  came  home  with  his  boat,  behold,  the  swan 
remained  a  swan,  and,  for  disappointment,  the  lad  pined  and 
wasted  away.  Seeing  which,  his  old  mother  consulted  various 
people,  but  got  no  help.  Finally,  she  went  to  a  certain  wise 
woman,  who  said, "  Sister,  do  not  you  understand  ?  Something 
has  happened  to  him  while  he  was  away  trading.  You  must 
use  a  device  to  find  out  what  it  is."  To  which  the  mother 
replied,  "  Tell  me  plainly  what  it  is,  and  you  will  do  a  good 
deed."  So  the  wise  woman  gave  this  advice.  "  Some  day  do 
you  direct  a  maiden  to  search  for  lice  in  his  hair.  And  while 
she  is  doing  this,  let  her  pretend  to  be  mightily  grieved,  and  let 
her  ask  him  what  is  the  matter.  And  he  will  feel  flattered  and 
will  open  out  his  heart  to  her."  And  the  mother  did  as  the 
wise  woman  directed  her.  The  girl  she  sent  wept  and  snuffled 
as  she  tended  the  lad  and  said,  "  Tell  me  why  you  pine  and 
grow  thin ;  else  I  too  will  give  up  food  and  drink."  And  so  he, 
heaving  a  sigh,  explained  thus :  "  While  I  was  away  trading,  I 
saw  the  white  swan  which  is  in  my  boat  turn  into  a  maiden. 
But  now  she  remains  a  swan,  and  for  her  love  I  am  pining." 

When  her  task  was  done,  she  told  the  lad's  mother,  who  sent 
word  to  the  wise  woman.  The  wise  woman  said,  "  Let  the  girl 
tell  him  that  the  swan  maiden  worships  her  own  gods  in  the 
dead  of  night.  Let  him  pretend  to  lie  asleep,  and  when  she 
divests  herself  of  her  swan  plumage,  let  him  seize  it  and  thrust 
it  into  the  hearth,  and  then  she  will  always  remain  a  girl."  The 
old  mother  directed  the  girl  accordingly,  and  the  girl  told  the 
lad.  One  day  he  mixed  ashes  and  oil  in  a  vessel,  and  procured 

APPENDIX    II  121 

a  yak's  tail,  and,  when  night  was  come,  he  lay  down  and 
pretended  to  be  fast  asleep.  Presently  the  swan  crept  out,  and 
feeling  his  hands,  feet,  and  body  with  her  beak,  was  satisfied 
that  he  slept.  Then  slowly  taking  off  her  swan  skin,  she 
became  absorbed  in  the  worship  of  her  country's  gods.  And 
the  lad  seeing  his  opportunity,  grasped  the  swan  plumage  and 
thrust  it  into  the  hearth,  so  that  it  was  singed,  and  the  smell  of 
the  feathers  filled  the  place.  And  the  maiden,  smelling  the 
burning  feathers,  cried,  "  What  have  you  done  to  me  ?  What 
have  you  done  to  me  ? "  So  saying,  she  fell  down  in  a  faint  and 
seemed  as  one  dead.  But  the  lad,  taking  his  vessel  of  oil, 
anointed  her  with  it,  and  fanned  her  gently  with  the  yak's  tail, 
till  she  came  to.  And  so  they  married,  and  begat  many  sons 
and  daughters,  and  lived  happily  ever  after.  And  that's  all ! 






Adoption,  30 

Agglutinative  verb,  78 

Ahom,    domination    over    Chutiyas, 

•  •     etc.,  6 

Ahom,  marriage  rites  among  Morans, 


Altar,  domestic,  42 
Ancestors,  worship  of,  34 
Animism,  33 
Areca  nut  (name  of  a  clan),  26 


Bamboo  groves  (as  totems),  26 

Banhbaroi  (bamboo-grove  clan),  26 

Baras  (statistics  of),  5 

Bargaya  clan,  93 

Basumati-aroi  clan  (among  Baras),  25 

Bathan  brai  (household  god),  35 

Bathan  (euphorbia),  as  a  god,  36 

Beggars  (as  a  clan),  25 

Bhima  (traditional  ancestor  of  Ka- 

chdris  in  Kachar),  7 
Bibizia-aroi  (the  beggars'  clan),  25 
Bihar  (traditional  ancestor  of  Chuti- 
yas), 90 

Bihu  festival,  34,  49 
Bing-bing-aroi  (the  musician  clan),  26 
Birth  ceremonies,  41 
Bodo  place-names,  4 
Brahmaroi  (the  priestly  clan),  26 
Brahmins,  satire  on,  63 
Bride  price,  31,  44 

among  Chutiyas,  95 

among  Morans,  89 
Burial,  46 

among  Chutiyas,  96 

among  Meches,  87 

among  Morans,  89 

among  Rabhas,  85 
Burial  mounds,  89 
Burmese  origin  of  Morans,  88 


Capture,  marriage  by,  43 

among  Morans,  89 
Castor-oil  plant,  20 
Cattle  taking  a  share  in  festivals,  51 
Ceremonies  at  birth,  41 
Chaklang  marriage,  among  Morans, 

Chastity,  rules  of,  30 

among  Hajongs,  86 
Cholera,  worship  to  avert,  39 
Chutiyas,  5,  90 

in  Western  Assam,  91 

history  of,  6 

clans  among,  93 
Clans  (exogamous),  among  Meches,  82 

(female),  among  Dimasa,  27 

(male)         „  „        27 

(totemistic)   among   Kacharis,   24, 

(totemistic)  among  Meches,  27 
Counting,  system  of  among  Bodos,  73 
"  Copper  "  temple  at  Sadiya,  93 
Corvde  among  Kacharis,  13 
Cremation,  among  Kacharis,  48 

among  Chutiyas,  96 

among  Hajongs,  87 

among  Morans,  89 

among  Rabhas,  85 
Crops,  14 


Daha  (or  dasa)  ceremony,  89 
Datiyals  (nickname  for  Rabhas),  83 
Deceased  husband's  brother  (marriage 

with),  29 

Deities  (or  modais),  33 
Deodani  (female  exorcist),  40 
Deoris  (as  priests),  24,  39,  90,  91 
Dhekia-bari-aroi  (fern-clan),  26 
Dhimals  (statistics  of),  5 
Dibongia  clan,  93 
Dimapur,  founding  of,  6 



Di-ma-sa  (how  separated  from  Bara- 
fisa),  8 

statistics  of,  5 
Ding-aroi  (clan  of  makers  of  bamboo 

water-vessels),  26 
Disease,  beliefs  as  to,  33 
Distribution  of  Bodo  races,  4 
Divorce,  among  Kacharis,  31 

among  Chutiyas,  95 

among  Hajongs,  86 

among  Morans,  89 
Doi-ma-aroi,  river-clan,  25 
Domestic  festivities,  49 
Dower,  recovery  of,  on  divorce,  31 


Earth  (as  a  totem),  25 
Elopement,  marriage  by,  43 
Emao,  ferment  used  in  making  rice- 
beer,  18 
Endogamous  clans  among  Chutiyas, 

Endogamy  in  Kachari  clans,  29 

in  royal  clan  among  Dimasa,  28 
Eri  or  Eranda  (castor-oil  plant),  20 
.Sri-cloth,  market  value  of,  21 
Euphorbia  plant  held  sacred,  30 
Exogamy  among  Di-ma-sa,  27 

among  Meches,  82 

among  Rabhas,  83 
Exorcism,  40 

Girapi-gira  (male  and  female  deities 

of  Chutiyas),  93 
Gods,  Household,  35-36 

village,  35 

Goi-bari-aroi  (areca  nut  clan),  26 
Govinda-Chandra,  last  Kachari  King 

of  Kachar,  7 
Grammar,  71  et  seq 

Hachum-sa  (royal  endogamous  clan), 


Ha(i)jongs  (statistics  of),  5 
Hajong  tribe,  85 
Harvest  festivities,  38,  49 
Harvesting,  method  of,  13 
Headhunting,  32 
Heroes  as  deities,  38 
Hidamba      (reputed      ancestor      of 

Meches;,  82 
Hindu  influence  among  Morans,  88 

among  Rabhas,  85 
Hojais,  clans  of,  27 

statistics  of,  5 
Houses,  nature  of,  11 
Household  gods,  35 
Human  sacrifices,  93 
Hunting,  15 
Hypergamy,  among  R4bhas,  83 

among  Kacharis,  29 


Fadam-aroi  (a  tree  clan),  27 
Festivals  (domestic),  49 

(tribal),  49 
Fishing,  16 
Fish,  dried,  use  of,  15 
Fish,  as  physician,  58 
Fish-traps,  16 
Folk-tales,  54-70 

,,      ,,       Appendix  II. 
Food,  14 

Food  offered  to  corpse,  46 
Funeral  ceremony,  46 
Furniture,  etc.,  12 


Gamari  tree,  20 

Gandhret-aroi  (Kachari  clan),  25 

Garos,  81 

statistics  of,  5 
Garo  tradition  as  to  Bodo  origins,  3 

Idols,  use  of,  40 
Infant  marriage,  absence  of,  44 
Inheritance,  rules  of,  32 
Initiation  (of  children),  42 

of  Kacharis  into  Rabha  tribe,  84 
Irrigation,  system  of,  12 

Jungle-grass,  as  a  totem,  25 
Jute,  as  a  totem,  25 


Kachari  dwdrs,  probable  origin  of,  8 
Kacharis  as  labourers  on  tea  estates, 


Kapahiyas  (Moran  sub-tribe),  87 
Khagrabariya  tribe,  10 
Khang    Khlo-aroi,    clan    of     among 

Kacharis,  25 



Khaspur,  founding  of,  6 
Kherkhat-aroi  (squirrel-clan),  27 
Koch,  Kingdom  of,  5 
Koches,  statistics  of,  5 
Kurung&  tree,  20 
Kuvera  as  a  Kachari  deity,  38 
in  Chutiy£  legends,  90 

Labour,  forced,  13 

Lalungs,  statistics  of,  5 

Language  (Kachari)  account  of,  71 
(Chutiy£),  account  of,  92 
(Rabhd),  account  of,  83 

Leeches  (as  a  clan  totem),  25 

Loom,  material  and  cost,  20 


Mahaliya,  statistics  of,  5 
Mahalaroi  (trader-clan),  27 
Maibong,  founding  of,  6 
Mai-nao,  (household  goddess),  36 

as  goddess  of  harvest,  37 
Mao-mararoi,  clan  name  taken  from 

habitat  of  clan,  27 
Marriage  of  Kacharis,  43 

of  Chutiyas,  94,  95 

of  Rabhas,  85 
Marriage,  Kachari  ceremony  of,  45 

Mech  ceremony  of,  82 

feasts,  46 

Married  life  among  Kacharis,  23 
Mech  tribe  described,  81 

statistics  of,  5 

Meches,  totemistic  clans  of,  27 
Midwives  or  dais,  41 
Milk,  dislike  of,  15 
Mleccha,  probable  origin  of  the  word 

"  Mech,"  81 
Modais  (or  deities),  33 
Morans,  statistics  of,  5 
Morans,  description  of  tribe,  87 
"  Moran  Kacharis,"  87 
Mos4-aroi,  Kachari  tiger  clan,  26 
Mosquito  festival,  49 
Musicians  as  a  clan,  26 


Nal-bariya,  tribe  of  Kacharis,  10 

Naming  of  children,  42 

Narzi-aroi  (Kachari  clan),  see  '  jute,' 

Natural  forces,  worship  of,  34 

Net,  use  of  in  the  chase,  15 
Number,  mystic,  41,  47,  48 


Ojhas  or  exercisers,  24,  40 
Ordeal  by  chewing  rice,  31 
Origin  of  Bodo  Race,  3 
Moran  race,  88 

Palhd  (fish-trap),  16 

Paramarthis  (Hajong  sub-tribe),  86 

Para6u  Ram  in  Chutiy£  legend,  90 

Patorgiy£  clan,  93 

Penance  on  death  of  totem  animal,  28 

Phatika  (distilled  spirits),  19 

Phulgariyas,  (see  Mahaliya),  5 

Pisha-dem&  (Chutiy&  deity),  93 

Pisha-si  (Chutiy&  goddess),  93 

Polyandry,  non-existence  of,  30 

Polygamy,  30 

among  Chutiyas,  95 
Presents,  marriage,  45,  46 
Price  of  grave  paid  to  deity  of  spot, 

Priests,  24,  39 

among  Chutiyas,  93 
Propitiation  by  sacrifice,  34 


Rabhas,  83. 

statistics  of,  5 
Ram-sa-aroi  (sons  of  Rama,  Kachari, 

clan),  26 

Raond  and  Raoni,  story  of,  as  explan- 
ation of  lightning,  68 
Ravana,  as  possible  source  of  Kachari 

fable,  70 
Religion  of  Kacharis,  33 

of  Morans,  88 

of  Hajongs,  86 

of  Rabhas,  84 

Rice-beer,  preparation  of,  17 
Rice-crop,  how  grown,  12 
Rivers  as  deities  averting  disease,  39 

called  by  Bodo  names  in  Assam,  4 

creation  of,  55 

worship  of,  36,  59 

worshipped  by  Deori  Chutiyas,  92 


Sacred  groves  (or  thansalis),  35 
Sacrifice  of  animals,  29,  41 



Sadiya,  original  seat  of  Chutiya  King- 
dom, 90 

Sangla  tree,  20 

Santi-jal,  water  used  for  ceremonial 
purification,  29 

iSaraniyas,  (see  Mahaliyas),  5 

Seasons,  personified,  59 

Sengfang,  name  of  male  clan,  27 

Service  in  lieu  of  brideprice,  44 
among  Chutiyas,  95 

Sessamum  as  a  totem,  25 

Shares  in  inherited  property,  32 

Sibing-aroi,  Kachari  clan,  25 

Siju  plant,  held  sacred,  30 

Sila-rai  as  a  deity,  38 

Silk  (eri)  culture,  19 

Silkworms,  19 

S~iva  worshipped  by  Meches  in  place 
of  Bathau,  82 

Solanimiyas,  statistics  of,  5 

Songs  sung  at  festivals,  51 

Spirits  (distilled),  19 

Spirits  unable  to  cross  water,  47 

Squirrel,  as  a  totem,  27 

Sraddha  (among  Hajongs),  87 
(observed  by  Meches),  83 

Sri,  god  of  good  luck,  57 

Survival  after  death,  38 

Swarga-aroi,  clan  of,  24 

Telani  ceremony,  89 
Tenga-paniya  clan,  93 
Thansali  or  sacred  grove,  35 
Thunder  and  Lightning,  beliefs  as  to, 

Tibetan  origin  of  Bodos,  tradition  as 

to,  3 
Tiger  as  a  totem,  25 

as  a  deity,  37 
Tipperas,  statistics  of,  5 
Totemistic  clans,  24 
Totems  (1)  Heaven,  24 

(2)  Earth,  25 

(3)  Tiger,  25,  82 

Totems — 

(4)  Junglegrass,  25 

(5)  Sessamum,  25 

(6)  Leech,  25 

(7)  Jute,  25 

(8)  Rivers,  25,  82 

(9)  Bamboo  water  vessels,  26 

(10)  Bamboos,  82    . 

(11)  Areca-nut,  26,  82 

(12)  Ferns,  26 

(13)  Squirrels,  27 

(14)  Fadam  tree,  27 
Totlas,  nickname  of  Rabhas,  83 


Umbilical  cord,  severing  of,  41 
Uncleanness  (ceremonial),  of  a  mother, 

Villages,  description  of,  1 1 

Village  gods,  35 

Vyavacaris  (Hajong  sub-tribe),  86 


Water,  reverence  for,  34 
Weaving,  process  of,  21 
Widow-marriage  (Kachari),  29 

(among  Hajongs),  87 

(among  Rabhas),  85 
Wizards  (among  Chutiyas),  92 
Women,  employed  in  catching  fish, 


Women's  domestic  duties,  37 
Women,  status  of,  22 

Zakhai  (fish  trap),  16 
Zu  or  rice  beer,  14 

preparation  of,  17 
Zulu,  name  of  female  clan,  27 


IBR  4T»v 

UCLA-College  Library 

DS  432  K15E5 

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